110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
What are the odds? Two mayoral candidates in West Volusia left law-enforcement with firings on their records
By Pat Andrews
posted Aug 12, 2014 - 2:52:18pm
What are the odds? In the Aug. 26 election, West Volusia has two candidates named Johnson. Both are running to be mayor, each once worked as a police officer, and both were involuntarily terminated, according to the respective police departments.
Also, both men dispute the exact circumstances of their departures from police work.
DeLand mayoral candidate Pat Johnson was a DeLand police officer 1989-91. His personnel file at the City of DeLand records that he was fired for insubordination, after refusing to follow a directive issued by his supervisor, Sgt. Tim Mattingly.
Pat Johnson said he actually quit his job because the city expected him to do menial work after a grant-funded assignment at the Oakland Terrace apartment complex ended.
"I'm better than that. I'm smarter than that," Johnson told The Beacon. He disputes the authenticity of documents in his personnel file.
DeBary mayoral candidate Clint Johnson went to work for the Orange City Police Department in January 2007 as a rookie. He was fired July 9, 2007, after causing a three-vehicle crash while on duty, according to city records.
"It wasn't because of the accident," Clint Johnson told The Beacon. He described the accident as occurring in heavy traffic, when Johnson thought he saw a suspect car and was distracted.
"I should have been paying more attention," he said.
Clint Johnson remembers a mutual parting of ways.
"Now, I sure wish I had written a resignation letter. On paper, I guess, I was fired. It was a mutual thing," Clint Johnson said.
In Clint Johnson’s case, Orange City Police Chief Jeffrey Baskoff wrote in the July 2007 termination letter, "After careful consideration and review of your progress throughout your probationary period with the Orange City Police Department, it is with great regret that inform you that you have not met the standards and expectations of the department."
Clint Johnson said Orange City had a much different police department back then.
"It wasn't as pro-active and vibrant as it is today," Clint Johnson said.
Shortly after he left, Clint Johnson said, 20 Orange City officers signed a petition complaining about unprofessional behavior from a supervisor, Lt. Greg Melvin, prompting an investigation that ultimately led to Melvin's and Chief Baskoff's resignations.
"Today, the department is outstanding," Clint Johnson added.
Clint Johnson's personnel file shows the rookie struggled with procedures, report-writing, knowledge of criminal procedures and ordinances, making unsatisfactory scores in those areas. He made progress in those areas over a few months of training, and was allowed to go out in a patrol vehicle on his own. Clint Johnson got along well with other officers and the public, the evaluations stated. He caused no disciplinary problems.
Then, on May 5, 2007, city records state, Clint Johnson back-ended a vehicle, which then hit another vehicle, causing damage to all three vehicles — around $20,000 worth, according to the files. He received a written notification that he had violated standard operating procedures. The termination came two months later.
Clint Johnson has had no crashes, nor has he had any traffic tickets since then, he said.
After leaving Orange City, he was a reservist with Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission December 2008-July 2009.
"I've always been passionate about the outdoors," he said.
Clint Johnson said he found the reservist job boring, and FWC records showed he left voluntarily in 2009, with no misconduct or disciplinary actions in his history.
With experience in the aluminum business, Clint Johnson then opened his own screening businesses, Screen Enforcement, in 2008. He still owns and operates the company.
In the DeBary mayoral race, Clint Johnson is in a three-way race with Jack Lenzen and Danny Tillis. All Debary voters are eligible to cast ballots in the Aug. 26 contest.
In the Pat Johnson case, his personnel file shows 19-year-old Pat Johnson was hired in May 1989 and involuntarily terminated in March 1991.
According to a memorandum from his sergeant to the chief, Pat Johnson refused to regularly provide an escort when City Hall employees took cash to the bank.
"Pat then stated emphatically that he did not want to do the escort and I emphatically stated that I wanted him to do it," Sgt. Tim Mattingly wrote.
Later, the sergeant heard Pat Johnson on the radio asking if another officer could take the detail.
According to the memo, when Pat Johnson was called into the sergeant's office, Pat Johnson was "indignant" about being given the detail, which he called a "flunky assignment" that was appropriate for a "geeky kind of guy like Ridgway."
Bill Ridgway was a rookie officer then; he is now DeLand’s police chief.
The memo written by Mattingly continues: “Johnson stated that he did not want to do the escort and that he would not do it and I could not make him do it. … He stated that I (Mattingly) was trying to make him one of my ‘boys’ by making him do the escort. … He repeatedly asked me, ‘Whose gonna win? You’re not! You can’t win.’ … He stated that he would be miserable and that he would make the whole shift miserable if he remained on the shift and was made to do the escort.”
Pat Johnson maintains he left the job voluntarily after his supervisors told him the escort detail was all the police work the city had for him. He pointed out that his brief history as a DeLand police officer also resulted in letters of compliment and commendation from members of the community.
Pat Johnson said documents were added to his file after he left, so city and police officials could “cover themselves.” Some of the people who were his superiors 1989-91 were later forced out of the department, Pat Johnson said.
An attorney is looking into the matter for him. Pat Johnson said is awaiting the outcome of the election before making any decision regarding a lawsuit. He doesn't want to sue the city, "but I will stop the corruption one way or another," he said.
As for any comments about Ridgway, Pat Johnson said he doesn't remember making them.
"It's very obvious [City Manager Michael] Pleus wanted someone he could control, and he's got his boy," Pat Johnson added.
The personnel file also documents Pat Johnson’s claim for unemployment benefits, which were ultimately denied when the Florida Department of Labor and Employment Security ruled that Pat Johnson had been justifiably fired by the City of DeLand, so was ineligible for the benefits.
The comments posted below are posted by readers, not by The Beacon staff. These comments express the views and opinions of the authors, and not the administrators, moderators or webmaster. The comments forum is governed by these rules. Please use the report abuse link if you find offensive comments.
Did you find this story interesting or informative? Subscribe to The West Volusia Beacon to read more stories by Pat Andrews, along with others from our award-winning writers. Subscribe now!