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Times editorial

Dade City candidate makes too much of a traffic stop

A near-universal campaign statement in every election season is the promise to be the voice of the people. It goes right along with the children-are-our-future platitude and the imprecise pledge to cut unidentified waste.

Dade City Commission candidate Jim Shive has a much more specific platform — rude cops. He says people have told him Dade City officers are impolite. But public records detailing his recent personal encounter with the department contradict that sentiment and, more importantly, show Shive to have an inability to follow directions, an inflated sense of self-importance and a willingness to butt into the city's day-to-day operations, if elected.

As detailed by Times staff writer Helen Ann Travis, Shive's Feb. 29 traffic stop for driving twice the speed limit in a 15 mph zone, resulted in a ticket for the candidate and an accusation from him that an officer treated him rudely. Shive said he was told to "shut up'' and reported his version of the conversation nine days later to a police captain.

Police memorandums, however, indicate the officer, as observed by a training supervisor, acted professionally and said Shive ignored multiple instructions to remain in his vehicle. (Requiring motorists to stay inside their cars during a traffic stop is a routine safety precaution for officers.) Eventually, the officer pushed the Volkswagen door closed when Shive again tried to leave his vehicle and told the City Commission hopeful in a firm voice "I want you to stay in the car for the entire duration of this traffic stop.''

Shive responded, "Do you know who I am? Everybody knows me.'' He identified himself as a city commissioner, according to a memorandum. In an interview, the officer, Charles Payton, said he could have been mistaken and Shive might have called himself a commission candidate. Shive told Payton he needed to work on his delivery.

Their conversation came to light March 9, the day after Shive encountered Payton at home as he campaigned door to door. Shive again told Payton he needed to work on his people skills and said police conduct was one of the issues he would address if elected.

Shive, told the Times, he attempted to leave the vehicle to get his wallet from the back seat and didn't hear the officer's command to remain inside. It is an odd rationalization. If Shive didn't hear the officer, how did he conclude he had been treated rudely?

He should forget about throwing his weight around the Police Department. The day-to-day management of the city and the department is the responsibility of the city's newly hired city manager and police chief. The City Commission's job is to set policy, not to determine patrol deployments, officer tactics or to act upon other pet peeves.

Shive is running for an open commission seat in the April 8 election. If he wants to be the voice of the people, he would be wise to work on his listening skills first.

Dade City candidate makes too much of a traffic stop 03/20/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 27, 2008 1:49pm]
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