Friday, November 24, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: A solid pick for Tampa’s new police chief

RECOMMENDED READING


Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn chose an experienced, sensible leader in naming Brian Dugan as the cityís new chief of police. Dugan, an agency veteran who had served as interim chief since July, knows the city and the department, and his sensitivity to the evolving demands on law enforcement will well serve his officers and the public. Whether a stronger candidate was in the wings is unclear, as the city short-circuited a national search. But Dugan is a solid pick who should bring stability at a critical time.

Buckhornís announcement Tuesday caught even the chief by surprise. Though Dugan had applied for the permanent post, the search process was ongoing, and the department is focused on solving the murders of three people over an 11-day period last month in southeast Seminole Heights, north of downtown. Buckhorn and Dugan have been visible in the neighborhood, appearing together to calm nerves, boost officersí morale and build stronger relations between residents and police. Buckhorn said he was impressed with how Dugan managed the situation and how he handled the police response to Hurricane Irma in September.

Duganís 27 years with the department and the comfort level he enjoys with the mayor give him the experience and a strong political foundation to make his mark as chief. He worked his way up from a beat officer and has handled virtually every aspect on the operational side, including managing the budget. He is respected and liked by his officers, ready with an informed opinion and genuinely open to critical feedback. He averted what could have been a public relations disaster for the agency earlier this year by reaching out to Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown, who had added his voice to national protests over racial injustice and police misconduct. The two now have a working relationship to address a matter of mutual concern.

As chief, Dugan will oversee a department of 1,000 officers in a growing city thatís becoming more urbanized and diverse. He will need to use his street smarts and savvy to strengthen crime-fighting in the inner city without alienating minority residents whose cooperation the authorities need. His maturity in uniform makes him a role model for younger officers, and his time in the command ranks prepares him to formally take charge of a large and politically tinged bureaucracy, which can only be expected to become more vocal in the run-up to the mayoral race in 2019.

Despite Duganís strengths, Buckhorn should have allowed the search process to play out. He announced a national search after then-Chief Eric Ward retired suddenly in July, saying: "Weíve got an obligation to go out and see what talent is out there." Duganís appointment follows a long tradition of hiring from the inside, and while it relieves the termed-out mayor of any flack for choosing an outsider, it is a lost opportunity to get a fresh perspective on the department. The city, which engaged a head-hunting firm for the search and has failed for weeks to comply with public records requests by the Tampa Bay Times for the list of applicants, should disclose the competitors. This post is second only in profile to the mayorís.

Duganís hands-on style has served the department well in the ongoing murder probe, and he receives high marks from many in the community for his work ethic and open, reasonable nature. He will need to remain accessible, but he has been impressive in tense situations. Thatís a compelling start for any police chief.

Comments

Editorial: Strengthening the ties that bind in Seminole Heights following 4 killings

During this weekend of giving thanks, letís recognize the Seminole Heights community for remaining united and committed to their neighborhood as residents cope with the stress and fear following a series of murders. Their response as police continue ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Editorial: St. Petersburg should revisit approach to historic preservation

St. Petersburg is headed down a slippery path in the name of historic preservation. After a group of 10 property owners in the Old Northeast neighborhood won approval earlier this year to become a one-block historic district, two more groups of neigh...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should help Florida agriculture recover from Irma

Editorial: Congress should help Florida agriculture recover from Irma

Florida agriculture took a beating in September from Hurricane Irma, which caused hundreds of millions of dollars in losses across the citrus, sugar, cattle and dairy industries. Yet despite a personal plea from Gov. Rick Scott, the Trump administrat...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Editorial: Senate should not repeal health insurance mandate to pay for tax cuts

There are all sorts of problems with the massive tax cut legislation the Senate is expected to vote on this week. Wealthy individuals and corporations benefit more than the poor and the middle class; by 2027, about half of all taxpayers would see a t...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: Ken Hagan should drop effort to recover attorneyís fees in ethics complaint

Editorial: Ken Hagan should drop effort to recover attorneyís fees in ethics complaint

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan says heís standing on principle in his effort to collect $7,800 spent defending him against ethics charges that eventually were dismissed.If so, itís the wrong principle. But Haganís strident position rings ...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/24/17

Another voice: Wall isnít a lifesaver, itís a boondoggle

The first stage of President Donald Trumpís controversial border wall project ended last week, while the prospects for any more construction ó and even what type of wall ó remain uncertain.A Border Patrol agent was killed and his partner seriously wo...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17

Another voice: Time for Republicans to denounce this tax nonsense

Mick Mulvaney, the phony deficit hawk President Donald Trump tapped to oversee the nationís budget, all but admitted on Sunday that the GOP tax plan currently before the Senate is built on fiction. Senators from whom the public should expect more ó s...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nationís highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: Trump does the right thing for elephants; he shouldnít back down now

There is bad timing, and then there is this. Last week, an apparent military coup placed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in custody, ushering in a new period of political uncertainty. A few days later, the Trump administration announced that Zimba...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/22/17