Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

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Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

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Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

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Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
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Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

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Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

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A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
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