How do you know when a situation in local government has gotten really out of hand? When the Legislature feels the need to butt in and the folks in Tallahassee are actually the voice of reason. Such was the case in the fractured relationship between Pasco-Hernando State College and the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. A bill approved during the 2014 regular legislative session gives the college and the Sheriff’s Office until Oct. 1 to work out a deal concerning the operation of the college’s law enforcement academy. Saying his concerns — questions about the academy’s equipment, classrooms and other facilities and the ethics of some instructors — weren’t being addressed, Sheriff Chris Nocco turned to the Pasco County School District in an attempt to create an alternative. In response, we suggested the district already had enough on its hands, including implementing the Common Core education standards, and didn’t need to be involved in something outside its prime mission, K-12 instruction. The legislative prod for a college-Sheriff’s Office deal came from House Speaker Will Weatherford, who called the lack of agreement over the “significant conflict” regarding the law enforcement academy “disappointing.”
Fortunately, both sides have reacted positively to the legislation and are suggesting that an end to the dispute could be near. Nocco says the legislation paves the way for the two sides to create a “world-class academy and training center.” PHSC spokeswoman Lucy Miller isn’t providing details but says the talks with the Sheriff’s Office are “getting close” to a successful conclusion. Usually, the farther away state and federal government stay from local matters the better. In this case, the prod from Tallahassee was warranted.