Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Second academy is unnecessary duplication

There is little need to reinvent the wheel or in this case reinvent police cadet training for Pasco and Hernando counties.

The Pasco school district and Sheriff's Office have just begun exploring creating a new police academy, but already the effort looks superfluous. Recent changes at Pasco-Hernando Community College's program, including a trio of staff departures and a national search for a new police academy director, should be allowed to play out before taxpayers are saddled with ambitions for a competing program.

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco suggested a new facility prior to an ad hoc committee's just-released recommendation to improve hiring and oversight of the PHCC law enforcement academy's instructional staff. Nocco and Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis previously faulted the college for retaining an instructor/coordinator who had been subject to numerous internal affairs investigations during his law enforcement career. This week the college fired that former instructor, James Nagy, for failing to cooperate during the sexual harassment investigation of his co-worker who also was terminated. Two days later, the academy director announced her retirement effective in January.

With those personnel concerns now moot, a second police training school in Pasco County resembles nothing more than an unnecessary duplication of services at public expense. The school district sees a potential police academy as part of a $7 million makeover and rebranding at the Marchman Technical Education Center in west Pasco to provide enhanced career training options. The Sheriff's Office sees a chance for more control of training as well as the potential to add a key upgrade to the agency, a firing range. The college correctly sees it as an infringement on a mission it's already filling.

Starting a new academy is more complex than finding open classrooms. Florida Department of Law Enforcement requirements for police academy certification include appropriate facilities such as a drive track, simulators and gun range. PHCC's academy staff includes four full-time and one part-time employee in addition to its roster of adjunct instructors. The college academy operates on a budget of $567,000 this year and currently has 100 students attending, a number that does not justify creating a second academy. In prior years, nearly three-quarters of the cadets came from Pasco and Hernando counties. In addition to training future police and corrections officers, the academy provides professional training to certified officers.

Pasco-Hernando Community College should be given a chance to respond to its critics and improve the academy. Doing otherwise only assures an unnecessary political fight among the college, Sheriff's Office and school district over certification. And if a second academy is permitted, it will mean unnecessary competition over a finite pool of student applicants. That's an odd definition of school choice, and the agencies involved certainly have greater priorities than this political snit.

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Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
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...
Published: 01/18/18

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