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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.
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.