You may recall in May STATter911.com highlighted stories from WFTS-TV that prompted the question “Can you be a fire captain and the leader of a motorcycle gang?”
One of the Florida jurisdictions highlighted in that post, Hillsborough County, now has answered that question with a resounding no. A new order bars all county employees from being a part of biker gangs and other criminal groups.
Hillsborough County came up with the new policy shortly after a warrant from Key West identified Firefighter Clinton Neal Walker as one of 15 members of the Outlaws involved in a bar fight (see video above).
Previously WFTS-TV identified Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Captain James Costa as president of the Outlaws St. Petersburg Chapter. The same stories identified Pasco County Fire Rescue Captain Glenn Buzze as president of the Pagans Pasco County Chapter. Pasco County has not instituted a similar rule.
In a memo Friday, County Administrator Mike Merrill outlined a new policy effective immediately barring membership in groups or gangs considered criminal organizations by the state or federal government.
Involvement in these organizations “will not be tolerated as these affiliations are contrary to the mission of public service,” Merrill wrote. “This directive is a reminder of our continuing obligation to represent all the citizens of Hillsborough County.”
The list of banned organizations is guided by the 2015 FBI National Gang Report and it includes the Outlaws, as well as Crips, Bloods, Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and the Pagans.
The new policy applies to all existing and future Hillsborough employees under County Administrator Mike Merrill’s watch. That includes Hillsborough fire rescue. Administrator Merrill tells us with recent events we uncovered he couldn’t wait any longer.
Effective today, all employees under Hillsborough’s County Administrator are prohibited from being members of criminal gangs identified by state and federal law enforcement.
“The people we serve here in the county need to know that I’m not going to tolerate that kind of thing regardless of whether it’s fire rescue or any other employee,” says Merrill.
Administrator Merrill says the directive comes after what the I-Team exposed back in may. Hillsborough and Pasco County firefighters and paramedics belonging to motorcycle clubs law enforcement define as criminal gangs and criminal enterprises.