Editor: I am surprised at the lack of interest from the public about Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent's vacillating attitude of support for Deputy Scott Lamia.
The facts, as I know them, are that Deputy Lamia was cleared, albeit with some criticism, by a grand jury for killing somebody who threatened our community's well being. Sheriff Nugent has stated his support for Lamia, albeit tersely, and an internal affairs investigation cleared Lamia of any wrongdoing.
So, why has Lamia been demoted if his shooting of a legitimate perpetrator was lawful? Why the 15-day suspension? Why the effort to sweep Lamia under the doormat?
Our public has many opinions on the integrity of Lamia's shooting, but if the sheriff has mumbled his support of Deputy Lamia, why is there this sudden case of political damage control? If the Sheriff's Office feels that the public needs to be shielded from Lamia by removing him from his regular assignments, then he should be dismissed. If not, he should be on full duty.
I believe our county deserves more from Sheriff Nugent in terms of his support for his deputies. Sheriff Nugent should take a page from former Sheriff Thomas Mylander's book. If Mylander felt that his deputies' actions were wrong, they were fired. If he felt they did their job, they were given unwavering support. Right or wrong, Mylander let the substance of his job sway the voters, rather than pandering to his political perceptions.
In a time of great uncertainty, with terrorism a foregone conclusion and our emergency services ill equipped to deal with another 9/11 catastrophe, it is of paramount importance that our police, ambulance, and fire services do not have ambivalent leadership.
While this letter is not an indictment of Sheriff Nugent's tenure, it is designed to ask the Sheriff's Office to be somewhat more altruistic in its support for the individuals who are willing to lay down their lives should ours be threatened.
have fired deputy
Editor: I wrote a letter to you Feb. 13 regarding Deputy Scott Lamia (unfortunately, not printed) and the investigation, which was almost summarily ignored by the grand jury, and now seem to be lost on Sheriff Richard Nugent. I was falsely pleased by your lead headline Feb. 28 Deputy suspended after inquiry, but was nonplused to read that he received only a 15-day suspension, and after that there will be no cut in pay. Most alarming, he will still have a gun.
This officer obviously cannot do his job as directed, even when he was on his way to a psychiatric evaluation and had been told to drive there and back with "tunnel vision" he was still brazen enough that he disobeyed orders and made another arrest. This man obviously has problems that should be addressed before he should be allowed to carry a gun as a civilian, never mind as a member of law enforcement.
Sheriff Nugent should read very carefully the words "law enforcement" and try to grasp their true meaning. People look shocked if you so much as suggest that an officer on the police force could do wrong. Unfortunately, they can and will do wrong if they are allowed to do their jobs in such an unprofessional and hot-headed way.
No amount of anger management courses or minor fines will take care of this problem. The man should not be in law enforcement, period.
That Sheriff Nugent took the same "good old boy club" attitude as he has so many times before is proof he simply is not up to the job.
Until the police are able to judge their own as sternly as anyone else is judged, the public is in constant danger from officers who are trigger-happy and rash.
Sheriff Nugent must take a long, hard look at every employee on his force and take appropriate action to protect the public. After all, his job is to protect the public, not his officers.
letter was ill informed
Editor: Re: Motorcyclists should take steps to ride safer, March 5 letter to the editor:
While grieving the loss of my uncle, Joseph LaRocco, imagine my dismay in reading the letter written by Wesley Jackson.
Mr. Jackson assumes to know about Joseph's life without ever meeting him. Mr. Jackson assumes my uncle has been riding a motorcycle for about one year. In fact, my uncle has been a motorcycle enthusiast for more than 45 years. Yes, he had his Gold Wing for about 2 years, but before that he drove a Honda CZ 500 for more than 20 years, and an Indian, and many other types of motorcycles since he was a teenager.
Mr. Jackson also assumes to know more than the Highway Patrol troopers. He assumes my uncle was at fault in the accident that took his life. Funny, I don't remember seeing Mr. Jackson's name on the trooper report I received. According to the trooper I spoke with, a complete report would be available 10 days after the accident. Does Mr. Jackson have a crystal ball to see into the future and determine the outcome of the report?
Joseph LaRocco left behind family and friends who loved him. Joseph LaRocco loved his family, his country, and yes, his motorcycles. Shame on you, Mr. Jackson, for adding to our grief. Shame on you for assuming you know things without all the facts.