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Blame Tarpon police officers, not department, for errors

Tarpon police needs more accountability | editorial, June 16

Blame employees for their errors

I have followed the St. Petersburg Times coverage of the two incidents within the Tarpon Springs Police Department concerning Officers John Spatz and Mike Kazouris. These two officers acted without regard for their position, the department or the citizens they represented. Yet the Times would find fault with the department for contributing to these incidents. Let's be clear — no amount of supervision or a well-written policy will stop any employee from acting irresponsibly. The blame for the actions of these two officers lies on their shoulders.

The department's responsibility began when it learned of the events and it should be judged on the action it took. In both cases, the officers were immediately relieved of duty and an investigation was conducted. After these investigations both officers lost their jobs. From an employment perspective, the department could not have taken stronger action.

It is easy for the media to come in after the incident and pick apart policies and claim there was a lack of supervision. What if the policy allowed for unlimited ride-alongs with a police officer? Would that have prevented the behavior of John Spatz? Of course not. Should the department discontinue both programs even though there have been years of success? That's the only way to ensure that this behavior does not happen within the programs.

In reality, if someone wants to act inappropriately, they will do just that. But it is the nature of the media to blame someone or thing for the actions of an individual. In this case, the blame lies with the former officers who are no longer in law enforcement. And that is where it belongs.

Ronnie H. Holt, captain (retired) Tarpon Springs Police Department, New Port Richey

Tarpon police needs more accountability | editorial, June 16

Bad police is a bad investment

One thing that former and a few current members of a secret faction of the Tarpon Springs Police Department have in abundance is gall. The fact that John Spatz, who was a member of this group who ignored procedures and protocol while wasting precious resources, would want his job back is no surprise. John Spatz and his ilk do not uphold the public trust.

Where was the oversight for years when this department was investigated at least twice by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for various abuses and overreach?

To his credit, acting police Chief Robert Kochen seems to be weeding out this faction because I've heard that most current members of this police department now adhere to the constitutional rights of the people they deal with. But I have to ask: Is this department a necessary expense for the citizens of Tarpon Springs, to the tune of more than $3 million a year, when the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is so prevalent in the area?

Dee Nicholas, Tarpon Springs

City wasted funds on road project | letter, June 2

Project will be a waste for years

Thank you so much, letter writer K. Sibley. You agree with my opinion on the "traffic calming" project in Skycrest in Clearwater.

I wrote to Clearwater traffic engineer Ken Sides, who is in charge of the project, when the thing first started and believe it or not, I received a phone call from Mr. Sides. I told him that I have lived in this area for over 40 years and had never seen anything so ridiculous anywhere.

I have never seen any speeding problem or anything else that would warrant such a project. If calming the traffic was a concern, speed tables that are located in other neighborhoods would sufficiently handle the problem.

Mr. Sides asked me to wait until the project was completed and then call him and tell him what I think.

Besides the more than $2 million that the project cost, the maintenance on the project will be ongoing. There will not be any change made now, because how could anyone in government admit that they made such a giant mistake? Now everyone has to live with it, like or not.

Jackie Hall, Clearwater

City wasted funds on road project | letter, June 2

Traffic calming will save lives

Perhaps letter writer K. Sibley is unaware of the number of tragic traffic-related deaths in this neighborhood. So, yes, if a grandmother wants to walk a baby in a stroller to a city park, it would be nice to know that grandmother and baby get there safely.

The construction phase of this project is inconvenient and, frankly, irksome, but in looking at the larger picture, many of the residents of this neighborhood have fought for eight years now to get traffic calming into this area because we do have schools, parks, dog parks and a very family friendly community where six people have died, the most recent a 3-month-old child, in the time we've been trying to get people to slow down in this residential neighborhood.

The "largest slice of the pie" of the city of Clearwater's budget has always been public safety. I'm grateful to our city leaders for having the foresight to put our citizens' safety, even yours, K. Sibley, above all else.

E. R. Cruickshank, Clearwater

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Blame Tarpon police officers, not department, for errors 06/20/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 20, 2009 1:14pm]
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