BY JAMES HARPER
The local NAACP and Black pastors are threatening action “should Volusia County be moved to offer a ‘sweetheart deal’” to beach patrol officer Todd Snipes in the form of early retirement as is being alleged.
Snipes remains on paid administrative leave as his future with the county is yet to be determined after a commentary was discovered on his Facebook page last month regarding Trayvon Martin who was killed last year by Sanford neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman who was acquitted last month of murder charges.
Slater and Durham said in a press release this week that sources close to the county have told them a deal has been worked out for Snipes to apply for early retirement with benefits.
Dave Byron, a spokesman for the county, told the Daytona Times this week that no deal has been reached in regards to Snipes.
“That’s not the way personnel matters are handled by the county. The county has no say in retirement benefits because all county employees are in the Florida Retirement System. The state, not the county, sets the retirement benefits,” Byron said.
Byron said immediately after the county became aware of the communications in question from Officer Snipes, an internal affairs investigation was started.
“Mr. Snipes is a law enforcement officer and is entitled to due process through the county’s Merit Rules (personnel code) and the Florida Policeman’s Bill of Rights. That investigation is very near to completion and the county intends to have an announcement in the very near future,” Byron continued.
Slater and Durham said in their press release they want Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen to delay his final decision on Snipes until the Volusia County Council is apprised of the findings of the internal investigation at a public forum in the council chambers.
“This matter will not come before the County Council. By Volusia County charter, all employees work for the county manager and personnel matters are exclusively the purview of the county manager,” Byron concluded.
Durham said he learned recently that discussions between attorneys representing Snipes and a representative from the county held last week in the offices of Snipes’ attorneys “may result in a sweet deal for Officer Snipes.’’
Durham said the communications in question by Snipes were allegedly viewed and received on county computers on county time.
“The terms of his dismissal for his repulsive and revolting commentary regarding Trayvon Martin – a captioned Facebook picture of Trayvon with these words – “These skittles are to die for!” and other pictures – are being negotiated by his attorneys on the grounds that there is insufficient evidence to prove a breach of the Florida Department Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, and Florida Law Enforcement Contract,” said Durham.
Durham and Slater are worried the county will bow to pressure from Snipes’ attorneys rather than call for the immediate dismissal of Snipes.
According to Durham and Slater, the question should be, “What part of the Code of Ethics did Snipes not breech?”
Asked Durham: “Did his comments on duty serve the interests of justice impartially, equitably, consistently and with discretion? Did he ‘conduct [himself] in a manner that reflects our core values of service, integrity, respect and quality? Did his words demonstrate that he treats all citizens with fairness, courtesy, respect and dignity? Is he accepting complete and total responsibility for [his] words, decisions and actions.’’