Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014
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PR manager asks FDLE to probe police chief; no confidence voted


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A union meeting Wednesday night delivered a vote of no confidence against Police Chief Dave Brown, according to City Manager Tom O’Neill.

Brown has not tendered a resignation at this point, O’Neill said Thursday morning. The Police Benevolent Association vote approving the no-confidence motion was 15-1, O’Neill was told.

O’Neill confirmed that he has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate several allegations of unspecified “improprieties” made against the police chief. The city manager declined to provide details because of the active investigation.

“I want it to be fair and impartial,” O’Neill said in an interview.

He added: “Time is of the essence. I want things resolved.”

Although this is an administrative matter, O’Neill said, he is keeping city council members informed.

On July 13, 2013, O’Neill was found unresponsive behind the wheel of his SUV with the engine running in New Port Richey. Instead of being arrested by New Port Richey police, O’Neill was taken to Morton Plant North Bay Hospital for medical treatment and the incident was classified as a “welfare check.”

Brown, who as chief of police works for O’Neill and describes himself as a close friend of the city manager, followed the ambulance to the hospital in New Port Richey and later gave O’Neill a ride home.

In late August, the Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney’s Office charged O’Neill with DUI after subpoenaed medical records showed a blood sample taken from the city manager at North Bay Hospital for medical purposes had an alcohol level of 0.367. Under Florida law a person with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is considered impaired.

At the time, State Attorney Bernie McCabe said none of the actions of any of the law enforcement personnel involved with O’Neill during the July 13 incident warranted further review by his office.

In September, the City Council rejected O’Neill’s offer to retire and instead voted 4-1 to suspended him without pay for 30 days and required him to undergo counseling.

In January, O’Neill entered a no contest plea to the DUI charge and was found guilty by a county judge. Sentencing included one year of probation and a $1,500 fine, among other conditions.

In a television news interview Brown denied influencing the handling of the July 13 incident by New Port Richey police but added his presence at the scene “looks bad.”

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