© St. Petersburg Times, published January 12, 2003
Editor: When I opened my newspaper this morning I saw an article in which Sheriff Jeff Dawsy states that he will not tolerate any wrongdoing by his deputies, etc.
I couldn't help but remember a couple of years ago when I was driving along County Road 491 almost to State Road 44, when a plain black sedan darted out from a side street, forcing me to swerve over the double yellow line to avoid a collision. Fortunately, no other cars were on the road.
I continued on my way, but every time I looked in the mirror, there was that black sedan. Finally, 5 miles later, a lot of lights came on in his grill, so I pulled over. It was Dawsy himself, and despite his causing me to swerve over the line to avoid hitting his car, he gave me a ticket for crossing the yellow line.
Now we read that two of his deputies have been driving at speeds around 90 mph, one was passing cars over the yellow line in the passing lane of SR 44 and refusing to stop for the flashing lights of the pursuing police car. Neither gets a ticket of any kind, and Dawsy says there is no double standard. Who is he kidding?
If the drivers in these recent incidents had not been police officers, they certainly would have been arrested and charged with a multitude of offenses, despite Dawsy's statements to the contrary.
Dawsy has been quoted as saying that the deputies are not superhuman beings. We agree that they are not -- nor do we expect them to be -- but we do expect them to obey the same laws the rest of us must obey. When they break the laws, we expect them to face the same consequences the rest of us would.
Most of the deputies are decent professional people, but those who break the law, flagrantly break the law, must be punished the same as anyone else.
Jeff, please don't tell us the deputies are treated the same as any other driver when your own example shows that they really are above the law. Suspensions and job terminations are serious, but you let them walk away from the consequences of the law while any other driver would have been in a real legal mess.
Your deeds belie your words, Jeff. You showed there is a double standard and it is just plain wrong.
-- Harry Cooper, Hernando
Editor: "Barney, this is Sheriff Andy. I need to talk to you about these recent events that make us look bad."
"That's a big 10-4, Andy."
"I was talking to Otis over at the barber shop and he says the citizens are getting a bit concerned about these shenanigans. That latest event on State Road 44 with my deputy speeding and passing cars in the center turning lane is no laughing matter. I have a couple of questions, Barney."
"Yessir, Andy, shoot."
"How far did you have to chase him before he finally stopped at the convenience store? Some are suggesting that he didn't stop until he reached his destination and that might be considered eluding a police officer. Aunt Bea says that some folks are asking why you didn't run a breathalyzer."
"Yessir, Andy, I probably should have, in view of them telling me they were heading to buy some beer before the store quit selling it. Andy, I was concerned that if he failed the test, it would have made matters worse."
"Some folks said that it looks like you were giving the deputy special treatment. It might be a safe assumption that they had been drinking, rather than to suppose they were going to start after 2 a.m. Barney, you must remember that if he had been drinking and you released him and he had an accident, the department would be in deep doo doo. I guess we're going to have to put out a new slick magazine telling the citizens what a good job we are doing so they will forget these little incidents."
"That ought to work Andy."
"If things get any worse, I might have to put Goober in uniform. Barney, you know Boss Hog ain't going to like this bad publicity either."
"Andy, he knows boys will be boys and they aren't perfect. By the way, Andy, after you explained your policy on seat belts, I have been having more speeders who unbuckle their seat belts so that I can cite them for that instead of for speeding."
"They can be sneaky, can't they, Barney?"
"10-4 on that Andy, it's time for me to hit the streets so Mayberry is safe."
-- Frank B. Hill, Homosassa
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