11/22/2000

Cheesecake photo nixed from police brochure

(TREASURE ISLAND, Fla.) -- Personnel director Fred Turner said he was just trying to recruit police candidates when he published a posed photo of a uniformed detective on the beach talking to two women in bikinis.

Turner created the brochure on his home computer with the help of members of the Treasure Island force.

But Nov. 17, City Manager Chuck Coward decided the photo should go. "I think it's inappropriate," Coward said.

"I'm pretty sure I saw it (before it was published) and I didn't have a problem with it," he said. "But I think a football term is best here: Upon further review, I think it's inappropriate."

Coward asked Turner to redesign the brochure by the end of the year.

The four-page pamphlet offers potential candidates some information about the city's Police Department and includes eight pictures.

Turner said the officers took the photos one weekend last spring. He said he selected the beach photograph of Cpl. Dave Schilt because it also included the city's sports utility vehicle.

"I wanted to show the beach and I wanted to show that we had up-to-date equipment too," he said.

Coward said they wanted to include photos representative of Treasure Island.

Schilt is in another photo talking with a group of beachgoers. Other pictures include officers on bicycle patrol, officers in a marine patrol boat and a former female sergeant handcuffing a man next to a squad car. That sergeant, Angie Cole, left the department this month to work for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Turner poked fun at the picture of Schilt and the scantily dressed women in the August employee newsletter, which he also published at home, saying that Schilt "insisted" on the beach patrol assignment.

Schilt was out of the office Nov. 17 and could not be reached for comment.

Turner said he has given the brochure to prospective police candidates and that Detective Kathi Lovelace distributed the brochure during a recent job fair in Orlando. Lovelace also was out of the office Friday.

The brochure was part of a major overhaul of the city's police hiring practices, which included establishing a board for interviews, advertising internationally on the Internet and updating police equipment and facilities.

Turner and police Chief Joe Pelkington said the new recruitment efforts have paid off. The department has hired six officers this year and is only one shy of its full staffing of 21. A dispatcher is scheduled to attend the police academy in January to fill that position.

Mayor Leon Atkinson said he is pleased with the progress the department has made in the past year, but said he thinks the photo of Schilt on the beach was a poor choice for the brochure.

"That is not the image that we want to present," he said.

It's not what members of the Pinellas National Organization for Women wants to see either, although the local president said she was not terribly offended by the photo.

"It's somewhat eyebrow-raising, but it's not hair-raising," said Sandy Oestreich. "I guess it would have been more appropriate if he had been waving from the car."

Capt. Todd Kirchgraber of the St. Pete Beach Police Department said his department doesn't publish a separate brochure for police recruits. Instead, he said, the police have space on the city's Web page to promote the department. On that page, he posted a photo of officers on the beach.

"They are driving an all-terrain vehicle, but there are no people in the background," Kirchgraber said Friday while checking the Web page.

(iSyndicate; St. Petersburg Times; Nov. 20, 2000) Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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