The Legislature passed a bill sponsored by House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, during its 2014 session giving Pasco-Hernando State College and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office until Oct. 1 to settle a dispute over PHSC’s law enforcement academy. The Sheriff’s Office had been saying it had problems with the academy’s operation, and college officials weren’t responding to those concerns in a satisfactory manner. Sheriff Chris Nocco had suggested creating an alternative academy through the Pasco School District.
After the Legislature intervened, both sides of the dispute spoke of progress toward a resolution. Some people might have hoped to have heard the last of the matter until a deal was sealed.
This week, however, the controversy was back in the headlines after PHSC President Katherine Johnson responded to a request last month from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that the college conduct an inquiry into the allegations against the academy. In a letter responding to the FDLE, Johnson wrote that most of the allegations were either untrue or were already being addressed. According to Johnson, the academy was using an incorrect method of scoring a firearms qualifications test, but the correct scoring method was now being used. The other allegations involved matters such as the re-grading of an exam, instructor absenteeism or early class dismissals, and the use of an unapproved student guide.
Such issues should be addressed to the satisfaction of sheriff’s officials. At first blush, however, they don’t strike us as evidence of major malfeasance at the academy. The effort to resolve the concerns of Sheriff’s Office leaders should continue to a successful ending.