Friday, January 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: End academy dispute to better serve public

The deteriorating relationship between Pasco County's largest police department and the law enforcement academy run by Pasco Hernando State College is a public embarrassment that needs to end before it expands into an unnecessary and expensive disservice to taxpayers.

Last week, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco banned his employees from teaching at the academy after the college protested a separate arrangement between the Sheriff's Office and the Citrus County-based Withlacoochee Technical Institute to train 22 recruits at the Land O'Lakes jail. It brought a swift response from the chairman of the college's board of trustees critical of what he described as Nocco's personal and vindictive tone toward the state college's academy.

But who did Nocco's edict really hurt? This month, nine Pasco Sheriff's Office employees are teaching at the college's academy at a wage of approximately $28 per instructional hour. That's lost income to them. Meanwhile, the college is already recruiting replacements and the students must wonder if Police Politics 101 should be part of the curriculum.

The escalating dispute dates to last summer when Nocco and Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis publicly faulted the college for retaining an instructor/coordinator who had been subject to numerous internal affairs investigations during his law enforcement career. By late November, the college fired the employee for failing to cooperate during an unrelated sexual harassment investigation of a co-worker. At nearly the same time, the academy's director announced her early retirement and an ad hoc committee recommended changes to improve hiring and oversight of the academy's instructional staff.

Even with the academy's personnel issues settled, the sheriffs unreasonably made other plans. Nienhuis affiliated his agency with the Withlacoochee Technical Institute and Nocco and the Pasco County School District began exploring the possibility of starting their own police academy as part of a $7 million makeover of the Marchman Technical Education Center in west Pasco. That plan remains in limbo because the school district has yet to file the required application with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The delay is opportune. A second academy and training site is an unnecessary duplication of services that the public shouldn't have to finance. The school district should just bag its plans entirely and redirect the mission at Marchman to a niche training not already provided locally. Besides, the college is poised to name its new academy director who should be allowed to implement the committee's recommendations to improve the school's operations.

Simultaneously, the sheriff and the college should consider prudent alternatives like sharing the training facilities in east Pasco so each can operate and manage their own academies under the college's oversight. The Sheriff's Office can be responsible for training its recruits while the college can continue to serve the rest of the region. That or some similar compromise would not be unreasonable.

What would be unreasonable is for the elected sheriff of Pasco County and the administration at Pasco Hernando State College to continue this rift that undermines the public confidence in both and unfairly tarnishes the credibility of the training available to the future police and detention officers serving Pasco County.

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Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18