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Tampa Fire Rescue PIO makes news after citizen clocks FD vehicle in excess of 100 mph. But guess who else was going that fast?

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Watch the story above closely and tell me if you get out of it what I do. What I see are a number of people who screwed up here and that this story probably should never have made TV news, at least not in the manner that it did.

A citizen named Eric Campbell says he clocked off-duty Tampa Fire Rescue firefighter Henry Williams, who is the acting PIO, driving in excess of 100 mph in a 50 mph zone while Williams was behind the wheel of an unmarked fire department vehicle. Campbell, according to the news story, had proof of this event on video. With a dash-cam recording, Campbell gave chase with his own vehicle, also traveling in excess of 100 mph.

The best I can tell from the coverage, Eric Campbell didn't take his "evidence" to Tampa Fire Rescue. He took it to WTSP-TV investigative reporter Mike Deeson who produced the TV news story above. According to that story, this is why Campbell did what he did:

Campbell says if he didn't have the dash cam, he believes Williams would not have been punished in the same way most people would.

"The consequences would be long-lasting and extreme for the average citizen, but to see the same guys enforcing the laws be above them, really gets my goat."

Deeson, who has done some excellent reporting in the past, concluded the report with the tag line, "10News investigates all instances of wrong doing". I am sorry to say Mike overlooked a couple of "instances" this time.

FL Tampa Tampa FR PIO caught speeding

If the reason you, as a reporter, are doing this story is out of concern for the safety of the public, worried that people may be put in jeopardy by Henry Williams driving twice the posted speed limit, how can you gloss over Eric Campbell doing the same? By airing and posting this story this way, aren't you encouraging the public to be vigilantes, to take similar actions and put even more people in jeopardy?

I'd like to believe if I had been the reporter who received this video I would have either encouraged Campbell to take his complaint and video to the fire department and stay out of it, or possibly done a story about both public safety folks and vigilante citizens with dash-cams who are making our streets unsafe.

Overall, this story is another reminder for those in public safety that everything you do in public, on-duty and off, will likely be caught on video somewhere. It can and will be used against you in a court of public opinion.

As for Henry Williams, he was given a written reprimand after a disciplinary hearing (in a follow-up story, Deeson called this "a slap on the hand").

In addition, Chief Tom Forward publicly described Williams' actions as "conduct unbecoming" and a dumb mistake. I think those descriptions could apply to some of the other parties involved in this story.


Comments - Add Yours

  • Ted

    PD should cite both of them. 

  • Boots

    Amen Ted


  • Fire21

    Yes.  Two wrongs don't make a right…they just make two wrongs.

  • Anonymous

    First off…was the PIO doing 100?? He shows his speed as he catching up to him, but I didn't see where he was maintaining the same distance over say a mile at the same speed. If the PIO punched it at a light and it took numbnuts a few seconds to change lanes and catch up to him, then he obviously was exceeding the PIO's speed. I say call the cops in on it to invest and ticket whomever should be ticketed. 

  • doobis

    The reason this was brought to Mike Deeson is because he acts like a jackass tabloid reporter when he can't find a "real" investigative story worth its weight in salt.  If you want to put some heat on any West Central FL public agency, just give Mike 1/2 the facts and he will be sure to exaggerate them enough (lie) to fill in the rest of the story.

    That being said, driving like fools is non excusable either.

  • puzzled

    If it isn't witnessed by an officer at the time of occurance, no citations can be issued. That being said, the PIO knows better, and as a PIO, should also know cameras are everywhere. I suppose the reported wanted the death penalty instead of a written repremand which will most likely result delay a promotion for a year or two.

  • willowbay

    I agree with the comments Dave (Statter) made in his covering text above.  Good points.

  • IDLH

    I don't have a problem with that citizen reporting the wrong doing in the video. If that FF/PIO is stupid enough to drive like that and not realize that people are always watching, shooting video, then he deserves the consequences. Guys forget they are riding around in big billboards and people are taking video, making observations, posting to social media and contacting governmental officials.

  • 8truck

    Consequences? As in a speeding ticket and points on his license. I wonde rif both will be given a ticket?