Each week, we're asking each of the Pinellas County sheriff candidates a question that's important to you, the voter, so you can be informed come ballot time.
This week, we asked:
- What should be the Sheriff's Office's approach to consolidating with municipal police departments?
Greg Pound answers:
CONSOLIDATION IS POLITICAL POSTURING. It’s about more money for the boys at the top and a tighter grip on our liberties. Once again we do not have a money problem we have government corruption problem with elected leader in Florida. Please watch this on the consolidation of Okaloosa County, FL law enforcement. It’s called corruption and we, the people, are paying for it.
The issue of consolidation, or contracting, law enforcement, fire services or other public safety agencies has become one of the most critical threats to those citizens of Okaloosa County who enjoy municipal life. Public safety should be paramount on the minds, and in the actions of our elected officials and preserved at all reasonable costs.
The information on this page specifically addresses law enforcement concerns in Okaloosa County. However, the same information can be considered with relation the consolidation in any other County in Florida or public safety organizations.
Consideration of consolidating, or contracting, law enforcement services is not a new concept, at least not in Fort Walton Beach, FL. It has been discussed over the years among various sitting councils; always ending with our elected officials comprehending the dangers and irresponsibility of the elimination of public safety quality of life services, with absolutely no benefit to the citizens. In fact, as explained here, consolidation or contracting is a negative benefit. The citizens will continue to pay taxes for services they no longer receive. Elected officials in the past have had the wisdom, prudence to reject what it is simply POLITICAL POWER STRUCTURING.
“Consolidation” or “contracting” are terms used by politicians to make this issue seem more palatable to their constituents. Both terms are entirely misleading. Let’s dispense with the political pretext and call it by a term that more accurately describes what it really is: ELIMINATION. Elimination of the quality of life, elimination of enhanced public safety services, , elimination of options, elimination of jobs, etc…
Since taking office, the incumbent sheriff has launched a destructive attack on the Fort Walton Beach Police Department with the intent of eliminating the department in favor of contract law enforcement, of which the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department will be the sole recipient. When approached about his agenda in this regard, he feigns innocence and indicates that he is not pursuing the issue; but that the municipalities are contacting him. Beware of political backstroking, and keep in mind his own words and “goals” in this regard.
WHAT YOU STAND TO LOSE:
Elimination of a municipal agency in favor of contract law enforcement services only benefits the agency receiving the contract. Citizens lose valuable quality of life services. The sheriff becomes a sole source provider and has the final word in all matters of law enforcement (policy control, resource deployment, criminal investigations, special event services, etc…). The municipality loses complete control of all law enforcement matters within its jurisdiction in favor of budget cuts that could be sought elsewhere. Unnecessarily cutting public safety services makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and is a disservice to the public.
Elimination of a municipal agency in favor of contracting law enforcement services is essentially an irreversible and final decision. It is the point of no return. When (not if) the powers that be realize they made a dreadful mistake it will be virtually impossible to reverse the damage.
The sheriff's candidates will debate at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday, July 17) at the Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater Octagon Arts Center, 2470 Nursery Rd.
The debate is free to attend, or you can watch Patch's live streaming coverage. It is sponsored by Patch, the National Armed Services & Law Enforcement Memorial Museum and Bay News 9.
Pound on previous Patch Podiums: