Monday, April 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Sheriff sets right policy on department DUIs

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has made the right call in implementing a new policy that any employee charged with driving under the influence will be fired. Individuals who earn their paycheck from a law enforcement agency charged with serving and protecting the public tacitly agree to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct both on and off duty.

Under the new rule, any Sheriff's Office employee cited for driving with a blood-alcohol level above 0.08 percent will be automatically fired, as will employees convicted of a DUI charge in a criminal proceeding. The explicit penalty comes in the wake of several embarrassing incidents involving inebriated Pinellas deputies arrested for DUI, including a probationary deputy who showed his badge after hitting a parked vehicle. Such antics undermine the agency's integrity.

Previously in Pinellas, sheriff's employees facing a DUI charge faced discipline ranging from a seven-day suspension to termination. Now, when an employee is arrested, he or she will be compelled to submit to a Breathalyzer test. While state law allows civilians to legally decline such tests, employees of the Sheriff's Office can be compelled by the department's internal affairs staff. Employees will have the option to resign, but Gualtieri said when it comes to sworn officers, resignation won't circumvent formal reporting to the state that the officer resigned while under investigation, a notation that will likely end his or her chances of being employed by another law enforcement agency.

Gualtieri's zero-tolerance policy closely mirrors rules put in place in 2004 by Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee. In Pasco and Hernando counties, sheriffs handle internal DUI incidents by placing the employee under administrative leave until the case is legally adjudicated before determining the employee's job status.

The public deserves to know that those charged with protecting the public are no risk to public safety themselves. Gualtieri's new rules send the right message in holding his employees to account.

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Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
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Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

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Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
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Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18