Monday, June 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Vision, transparency keys for Clearwater chief

In 2009, when Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne needed a new police chief, he cast the net wide, bringing nearly a dozen applicants to town from as far away as Texas and Colorado for interviews. This time, the bench at the Clearwater Police Department had some worthy candidates and Horne quickly named one of them, Maj. Dan Slaughter, 44, as Clearwater's new chief of police. Slaughter's 22-year history in the department, his vision for how police should serve their community and his appetite for challenges should serve him well in a city that is a major tourist destination but also home to a diverse population with wide-ranging needs.

Slaughter replaces Chief Tony Holloway, who after four years as Clearwater's chief was named last month by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman to lead that city's bigger department. Holloway was praised by Clearwater officials, residents and police rank and file for keeping the department on track and advancing the department's reputation for community policing with an initiative called "park, walk and talk."

It was Holloway who promoted Slaughter two years ago to patrol major, overseeing about 170 of the department's 235 officers. Their relationship and trust in each other could lead to constructive collaboration as they lead the county's two largest municipal police agencies.

Slaughter has deep roots in Pinellas County. Born in Nebraska, he moved to Pinellas with his family as a young teen. He graduated from Largo High and the University of South Florida, married a local woman and was hired right out of college by the Clearwater Police Department. The jobs he's held in that department — including patrol officer, homicide detective, internal affairs sergeant and special operations lieutenant — give him a deep understanding of the department's strengths and the community's needs. He patrolled some tough beats, including the notorious Condon Gardens public housing complex, and worked on a couple of the city's most persistent problems: prostitution and homelessness.

Slaughter says he still gets excited when the phone rings in the middle of the night and he's confronted with an event or a problem he needs to manage. He'll no doubt continue to have many of those nights, but as chief, his role will change, as will the community's expectations of him.

While Holloway built solid relationships one on one, he was not very visible and seldom seized opportunities to talk publicly about his law enforcement philosophies. Slaughter should be visible, should establish himself as the city's top cop, and should share his ideas, his policing philosophies and his department's needs. That will be important at budget time.

Residents also will expect Slaughter to be firm with his own employees. Holloway's recent discipline of an off-duty officer who drove after drinking at a Clearwater Beach bar was criticized by some as too lenient — he was suspended for five days and two officers who stopped him but didn't do a field sobriety test, drove him home and produced no report got only a one-day suspension each.

Most important, Slaughter will need to be transparent — when his department does the right things, and when it is wrong. That's how he'll earn residents' trust.

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Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

This fall voters will have 13 constitutional amendments to wade through on the ballot, but Amendment 4 should get special focus. It represents a rare opportunity to rectify a grievous provision in the Florida Constitution, which permanently revokes t...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

The Trump administration just can’t stop sabotaging Americans’ access to health care. Instead of giving up after it failed to persuade Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it continues to quietly undermine the law in ways that would reduce acc...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Parkland students set example for advocacy

Music is healing. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School put that theory on display Sunday night in New York with their stirring performance at the Tony Awards — beautifully.The students, all from the school’s drama department, bro...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18