Ex-judge selected for police inquiry
John T. Ware, 68, of St. Petersburg will review allegations of a “hit list” in the Pinellas Park Police Department.
By ANNE LINDBERG
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 1, 2000
PINELLAS PARK — Retired judges appeared so scarce that City Manager Jerry Mudd was ready to give up on the idea of hiring one to investigate allegations of a “hit list” in the Police Department until the city attorney found one last week.
Mudd said the city attorney will send John T. Ware, 68, of St. Petersburg a letter on Monday agreeing to pay him $175 an hour, up to a cap of $10,000, to look into the hit-list accusations and other issues in the Police Department. He will begin working late this week, Mudd said. It’s unclear how long the investigation might take.
Mudd had no details of Ware’s background, saying he relied on City Attorney Ed Foreman’s advice in choosing Ware.
“He’s very confident that Judge Ware is very well qualified to do this work,” Mudd said. “I would defer to Mr. Foreman’s opinion.”
Ware’s investigation will be going on at the same time the department is undergoing a climate study to measure department morale and look for ways to improve relations among officers. The company performing that study is being paid about $50,000.
The outside investigations became necessary this year after many officers complained about the treatment they were receiving inside the department.
Three female officers filed state and federal claims that they had been sexually harassed and discriminated against. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Office upheld the claims of one of the women. The agency has not ruled on the other complaints.
Two men filed union grievances alleging they were victims of a hit list that targeted several officers for firing who were older and known for speaking out.
Then-police Chief David Milchan denied the allegations of both the women and the men. But Milchan soon resigned rather than be fired after Mudd accused the chief of threatening him and waving a finger in his face. Milchan also denies those allegations.
Milchan and his second in command, Capt. Bob Hempel, have criticized Mudd and accused him of being the cause of the department’s problems.
In choosing an interim chief to replace Milchan, Mudd bypassed two higher-ranking officers to appoint Lt. Dorene Thomas.
Just last week, in a bid to improve morale in the embattled department, the City Council agreed the department could try a shorter workweek for patrol officers.
Under the new plan, which will be tested for several months beginning in early January, officers will work four days a week. Those days will be 10 hours long, so the workweek itself will have as many hours as the current five-day, eight-hour week. The main difference is that officers will have three-day weekends.
If the test is successful, the new work schedule would become permanent.