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Can you be a fire captain and the leader of a motorcycle gang?

FL Pasco County captains in motorcycle gangs 1 5-4-16

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There is a really interesting story out of Florida that’s worth discussing. According to WFTS-TV’s I-Team, two fire captains, from two different departments, are chapter presidents of two different motorcycle gangs. One is with the Pagans and the other with the Outlaws. These motorcycle clubs are among seven that the Department of Justice lists officially as Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs).

Neither captain has been charged with a crime. In fact, Pasco County Fire Rescue Chief Scott Cassin acknowledged in a statement that the local sheriff’s office recently “looked into the alleged criminal gang activity of Fire Captain Glen Buzze.” Buzze, according to the report, is the president of the Pagans Pasco County Chapter. Chief Sassin wrote “To the County’s knowledge, no criminal activity was discovered regarding Mr. Buzze, and therefore, the SO did not make an arrest in the case.” The news report says Buzze has no criminal record. According to Chief Cassin, during that investigation “the Fire Rescue Department did monitor Captain Buzze’s activities more closely” but found no suspicion of drug use or reason to do drug testing.

The report says Captain James Costa of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue is president of the Outlaws St. Petersburg Chapter. Costa has a clean criminal record since becoming a firefighter but, according to the news report, had some arrests prior to taking the job.

Some questions

  • Is this an important news story?
  • The story says there are no fire department policies preventing gang members from becoming firefighters or firefighters from becoming gang members. Should there be?
  • Should anyone be concerned what these firefighters are doing on their off-duty time if they haven’t been charged with a crime?
  • Is this activity something a fire chief should be concerned about?
  • Should the local government be concerned about the impact such activity has on the image of the department?
  • Should it only be the business of the department, the news media or even the public when, or if, there are criminal charges connected to this activity?

Now that you’ve answered those questions

If your belief is it’s no one’s business, what do you make of this part of the report by WFTS-TV’s Jarrod Holbrook, Drew Whiteman?

According to law enforcement, there are two distinct groups within MCs. There is the 99 percent, who believe in following and respecting the law.

Then there are the “1%-ers” — who proudly display a patch that signifies an anti-law abiding lifestyle. Tampa’s ATF Agent Keary Hundt says when you’re a 1 percenter, “You consider yourself not subject to society’s rules and laws.”

Agent Hundt investigates criminal motorcycle gangs. He says they are known for all types of crimes, “Drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, extortion, arson, bombings, you name it.”

You can see Pasco firefighter Glen Buzze sporting the “1%” symbol in two places in the above photos — one on his shirt and one his necklace.

In recent years we’ve run a number of stories about firefighters, EMS workers and even 911 employees who’ve received disciplinary action or lost their jobs after making public statements against law enforcement. With that in mind, here is my final question. Should you be able to have a job in public safety when you also represent a group that professes to have an “anti-law abiding lifestyle” and is listed as a criminal enterprise by federal law enforcement?

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