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Letters to the Editors

Former fire commissioner questions investigation


© St. Petersburg Times
published January 12, 2003

Editor: Re: Attempt to fire 2 firefighters fails, Jan. 10 Times:

For the first time in eight years I have attended a Spring Hill Fire Rescue District Commission meeting from the audience side of the dais. What an enlightening experience!

I am referencing the part of the meeting where the discipline of three firefighters was discussed. Whether the three firefighters are guilty of policy violations or not isn't the issue. The issue is the way this investigation was performed.

Commissioners Darryl Hamilton and Richard Martin had excellent questions. As a matter of fact, their questions and the answers received shed a totally different light on the manner in which this internal investigation was performed.

Commissioner Hamilton asked if the alleged victim was interviewed? Were the waiters at the Bahama Breeze restaurant (in Altamonte Springs) interviewed? Did anyone interview me (Robert Kanner, former fire commission chairman)? Did the consultant make his recommendations in writing?

Much to my surprise, all the answers were no. How in the world does a government entity perform an internal investigation without a paper trail from the consultant? Even more important, how is the consultant going to issue a voucher for payment without his performance in writing?

I was the chairman of the commission when Assistant Chief Davies was hired. Nowhere in his job description did it state he needs to have the knowledge of a private investigator. The direction of this internal investigation should have come from Walter Dry and VTR investigators. Instead the entire investigation was based on the Altamonte Springs detectives' report and the report of the Seminole County State Attorney.

We are looking at apples and oranges. The detectives and the state attorney investigate the criminal aspects. The internal investigation should be looking into internal policy violations. You cannot depend on the state attorney's information when an internal investigation of policy is being performed. After all, when the state attorney wrote his report, he couldn't care less about the internal policies of the fire district.

When the initial reports were filed there were many references to different issues that took place. To my amazement, none of the experts in the internal investigative field bothered to look into any of these references.

Commissioner Martin, who has no investigative experience whatsoever, took the initiative to investigate a reference of the videotape. According to Commissioner Martin there are some very important issues on this tape. It is my understanding that these issues will be looked at in the very near future. Will these tapes open the eyes of the public, or better yet, open the eyes of certain fire commissioners? Time will tell what role these tapes will play. As radio broadcaster Paul Harvey would say, "And now, the rest of the story."
-- Robert Kanner, former commissioner, Spring Hill Fire District

There's a world outside Timber Pines

Editor: Re: Missing man found by deputies, Dec. 31 Times.

I heard the helicopter for a long time. It made me anxious because that usually means a problem.

I also was awakened in the night with a telephone call from emergency services. It alarmed me because right away you think of family or a friend.

When I listened to the message, my first reaction was to sympathize for the man and his family.

The people in Timber Pines must think they are in their own little world. If it was one of their people, they would be the first to complain if nothing was done.

Also, for the woman who wrote that Timber Pines residents are older and do volunteer and charity work, etc., I have a news flash; so do the people who don't live behind their wall.
-- Joan Marsh, Spring Hill

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