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Port Richey police chief faces no confidence vote

Published Apr. 11, 2014

PORT RICHEY — Police Chief Dave Brown is facing mutiny within his ranks from police officers questioning his ability to lead Port Richey's department.

Several complaints from union members against Brown have been received by the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association, leading to a rare "no confidence" vote tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, PBA Director of Operations Jim Diamond said.

Diamond declined to discuss the nature of the complaints but said they make enough of a "compelling case" to warrant the vote. If a majority of Port Richey's 16 police union members vote no confidence, then a letter will be sent to City Manager Tom O'Neill.

If that occurs, it's not a document that binds the city manager to act, according to Diamond. "But it's a pretty good indication that there's problems," he said.

Brown, who was made interim chief in May 2008 and tapped permanently that November, declined to comment at a City Council meeting Tuesday. O'Neill said he could not discuss the complaints against Brown other than to say he is investigating. O'Neill. He added that he will be contacting the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for its input.

"I want everything to be done impartially and fairly," O'Neill said.

Both men drew criticism last year when O'Neill was found asleep at the wheel of his SUV late one July night. Dash cam video from a Port Richey police cruiser showed O'Neill being helped to the rear of his vehicle by paramedics. He was unable to stand on his own or perform field sobriety exercises but not arrested. Instead, paramedics took him to a hospital and he was given a ride home later — by Brown.

Prosecutors charged O'Neill with DUI after a hospital blood test showed he had a .367 blood-alcohol level. He pleaded no contest.

Brown said he picked up O'Neill at the hospital to help a friend.

Diamond said Brown's actions that night were not referenced in the complaints from union members. Port Richey Mayor Eloise Taylor said O'Neill made her aware of the complaints against Brown but she expects O'Neill to handle the situation.

"If I see something that is not being done properly, I have a voice and I will use it," she said.