Time to study merged public safety services | Feb. 24, editorial
Service to public must be priority
I agree completely with the suggestion that the city of New Port Richey seriously evaluate the possibility of merging their police and fire departments with those similar agencies of Pasco County. The impact to all four agencies and to the residents in both the city and the county must be reviewed. A thorough understanding of the actual costs of such a consolidation must be evaluated against any potential savings that could be realized by all involved.
But the primary focus must remain on the continuity and quality of service that will be provided to those making a 911 call when they are in need of the assistance of law enforcement, the fire department or EMS. From a fire and EMS perspective, one of the most obvious matters that will be addressed is the concept of "closest unit response." There are many areas within the boundaries of the city and the county that will be better served by the automatic response of first responders and firefighters from fire stations that are geographically closer to the locations of emergencies. A review of current station locations must be included. Will consolidation result in closures or relocation of facilities and resources?
Careful consideration must be given to the impact on employees to insure that their years of service and training are recognized and treated appropriately. The availability of career development and advancement will be required. Pensions must be maintained. Union affiliations must be addressed.
As you pointed out, this process "also must take into account the intangibles of public perception and municipal identity." Law enforcement officers and firefighters take pride in the communities that they serve. And they take pride in their affiliation and in identifying with their own departments. This is mirrored by the community. These intangibles are important to both and must be addressed in any comprehensive study.
The impact of the Great Recession has challenged municipal and county governments to carefully re-evaluate past and future practices. The status quo is passé and counterproductive. Our leaders are tasked with finding better and more efficient ways to provide basic services while ensuring that the quality of public services is maintained. The consolidation of certain public safety services is a potential path to meeting these goals.
C. Duncan Hitchcock, New Port Richey
Nocco: Probation ineffective Feb. 23 ,article
Sheriff misses the mark this time
I read with interest that Sheriff Chris Nocco now wants to enlarge his department by overseeing state probation officers as he feels they are ineffective. I am retired from the Florida Department of Corrections Probation/Parole Services. In my over 30 years experience in the field and in management I can state that probation officers are some of the most dedicated, hard-working people I know. They keep the community safe, and are in the field on a daily basis working to ensure that the community remains safe.
The case loads are specialized so that those offenders who are a risk are supervised more closely. Sheriff Nocco does not know how much is involved in following the courts' directives and orders. Each case is handled on its own merits.
What should happen is the departments should work together to ensure the public safety; two agencies assisting each other. In my experience, this works.
I am a supporter of the sheriff and will remain so. However, I do not agree with this proposal or his criticism of Probation/Parole Services.
Barbara J. Sherburne, Trinity
Getting flu shot did no good
Like so many of my friends, neighbors and fellow residents of Pasco County, I bared my arm last fall to get my flu shot. What I did not realize was that I might just as well have had an injection of distilled water. I caught the flu as so many others did. My wife caught the flu as well despite having received the shot.
At the time, they indicated they were protecting us against the same flu strains that were prevalent last year. I questioned it at the time since I know that there are new strains every year. I was assured that this shot was adequate. Wrong!
For the first time in 25 years, I got knocked out by the flu. Then I read that the shot was only 9 percent effective on persons over 65. I am over 65. Why is it that our age group was hit so hard? Perhaps they gave us a special, ineffective shot to get rid of us?
I think that there should be an investigation by our representatives in the state Legislature and in Congress to see what is going on with these shots. Medicare, other insurance and people's hard-earned cash was paid for this ripoff.
The drug companies simply gave us last year's leftover serum. Nine percent effective? That is statistically insignificant. Powdered tiger tooth or a magic amulet would have worked just as well. To top it off, the medical profession tells us to get the shot anyway, even if it does not work. Perhaps we should all just mail in a check and let it go at that since it is all about the money.
Lewis Corvene, Hudson
Citizens must be stopped
I read about the man who easily scammed an elderly lady out of $1,300. Then I read about the CEO of Citizens Insurance spending our hard-earned money on hotels and I came up with the perfect solution. All these scammers should get together, pool their money and start a new homeowners insurance company.
They can undercut Citizens' prices and get most of the homeowners to go with them, live the high life and not worry about being prosecuted or going to jail. They could scam the whole state of Florida legitimately.
Help! We need a break. Why can't our lawmakers do something to reign these greedy people in?
Donna Herrick, Hudson