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Letters to the Editors

Chief should be fired immediately

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 6, 2002

Editor: Re: Restaurateur jailed after dispute with police chief, Jan. 3 Times:

This article unequivocally points out that Inverness made a terrible mistake in hiring police Chief Joseph Elizarde. His behavior, regardless of the details, points to a complete abuse of power by a local officer of the law. He should be summarily fired, not for the details, but for petulant, self-gratifying immature, and possibly dangerous behavior.

Can you imagine if all of us got that upset at a delayed burger order and called the police because somebody touched us? It is scary that we allow a person with such little self-control to even have a firearm and the authority to use it. Shame on the chief.

I'd like to add what I see as the root reason why there should be no question about immediately firing Elizarde. Elizarde initiated (by going back to the restaurant), contributed to, participated in and aggravated the degrading of a simple oversight on the part of a local merchant. He turned it into a potentially dangerous situation where a citizen might have been hurt.

The chief of police did this. He caused taxpayers to use the police department resources to take into custody a fellow citizen who took too long to prepare a hamburger.

This is a very clear indication and a warning to all of us that this man does not have the control over his ego and emotions that we expect of our teenage kids, let alone a police officer.

Again, the details are not even relevant. He caused the incident to happen. Fire him or rue the day you did not. This man is a danger to our community. His reactions were not rational and cannot be overlooked.

The use of his position to arrest a citizen for an affront to his ego or hunger pangs cannot be tolerated. Next time will be much worse, and there will be a next time. Bet on it.
-- Robin Humphrey, Crystal River

Chief's restaurant behavior raises a host of questions

Editor: I have been watching the various accounts of "The Burger Matters" in Inverness, both on the news and in the newspapers. I have only lived in the area for a little more than a year, so I have some questions before I should like to purchase a business or business property in or near Inverness.

1. Why would anyone want to buy greasy burgers?

2. What car was the chief driving, personal or police cruiser?

3. At what point did the chief identify himself as a police officer? To whom and for what purpose?

4. Did the chief have any business at the restaurant other than to voice his complaint?

5. After the chief voiced his opinion to at least three people at the restaurant, why did he not leave?

6. Owner Butch Ramsey called 911, apparently because a noncustomer would not leave when asked. Is this not a trespass on the part of what was still "Mr." Elizarde? Is not such unruly behavior described as disorderly conduct? Are the customers in this restaurant not entitled to a peaceful, uninterrupted meal? Why did the police not arrest the chief?

7. Why did the police not question anyone in the restaurant as to what transpired?

8. Is $500 a common bail for a misdemeanor such as this? Did the police feel that Mr. Ramsey would not appear for a hearing?

9. Is this the way the city of Inverness, either by the chief of police or by other means, greets new businesses in town?

I'm sure I am not the only person watching and waiting for these and other answers.
-- Thomas Bowsman, Beverly Hills

News of chief's action sheds negative light on Inverness

Editor: Re: Restaurateur jailed after dispute with police chief, Jan. 3 Times:

Thank goodness the Ramseys have kept their sense of humor over their encounter with Inverness' police chief. I'm a frequent visitor to the Central Motel and just recently visited. I was glad to see the restaurant had reopened. During my breakfast there, a table of 12 or more arrived, and although it was a little hectic, my friend and I got our food on time and had a laugh with the large group as we left.

I scan a lot of media daily about Florida, and in particular Citrus County, where I was born (actually Brooksville since Inverness didn't have a doctor or hospital at that time) and raised. I was infuriated to read about the police chief's behavior. This is the man who is supposed to be a role model for his officers and one of the most respected people in town, not a self-absorbed, two-bit punk, and most of all a legal liability. And it seems from all accounts that's about all you could call Chief Joseph Elizarde.

Being a police chief is not a part-time job; it's a highly respected profession both on and off duty. Chief Elizarde obviously does not fit that ticket and should be terminated. He cannot be treated as a rank-and-file officer who needs a reprimand. You don't get second chances at his level and his remarks defending himself do not seem to lend much hope to changing, i.e., "They should know their chief is not a wimp."

What really infuriates me is that this news of Inverness, and consequently Citrus County because it is the county seat, will overshadow all the great things that have been accomplished recently, e.g., the downtown revitalization and courthouse restoration, the whooping crane reintroduction, the attempts to preserve the natural environment, the heart surgery unit at the hospital, etc.

Neither Inverness nor the county needs bad press. The world we live in today is largely formed by the impressions we read in the media and see and hear on TV and radio. Here I am in Connecticut reading about it in three newspapers yesterday. It also overshadows all the efforts my parents and others of their generation put into the area. They left a legacy to build on, and I do not take lightly the actions of this person changing the focus of the media and painting Inverness in a bad light.

Inverness and Citrus County can be leaders and should get rid of those in positions of power who do not further that vision.
-- Robert F. Roscow, Hamden, Conn.

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