Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Warrant shift puts focus on most dangerous

With more than 14,000 outstanding felony arrest warrants, there should be plenty of work to keep Pinellas County sheriff's deputies busy rounding up those wanted people who pose a significant safety risk. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri did the right thing by reversing course and re-establishing a unit dedicated to tracking down the most dangerous suspects.

Pinellas County had been the only jurisdiction among Florida's seven most populated counties without a full-time squad of detectives serving outstanding arrest warrants — and it had the highest per capita rate of outstanding felony warrants among that group, tying Broward County. To save $1.9 million, as chief deputy to then-Sheriff Jim Coats in 2009, Gualtieri oversaw the elimination of the 16-member warrants bureau. Gualtieri argued the work could be absorbed by patrol deputies, but they could not keep pace with a growing warrants list. Gregory Johns of Safety Harbor eluded capture for 17 months on a felony arrest warrant for drug charges. During that time he raped and impregnated an 11-year-old girl.

The Johns case, among others, so troubled Gualtieri he moved to create the Violent Offender Warrant Unit, which will be staffed by a team of four detectives and a sergeant operating on a $400,000 budget. Unlike the previous unit that could get bogged down looking for minor drug offenders, nonviolent criminals and people involved in civil cases, the new unit will be focusing on the area's most violent wanted felons.

Gualtieri's decision also underscores the need for Pinellas County to improve an antiquated system of record-keeping for outstanding warrants. As the Tampa Bay Times' Peter Jamison and Dan Sullivan reported, other Florida counties routinely purge aging warrants for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. Of the 55,000 arrest warrants on file in Pinellas County, 22,000 of them are more than 12 years old. Pinellas County law enforcement and courts officials need to reform the warrants system by weeding out old warrants and creating a more efficient and detailed system that prioritizes warrants based on the severity of the crime. Two active warrants are for people who were born in 1901. It is probably safe to stop looking for them.

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Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18