Editorial: Deputy doesn’t deserve firing

A Pinellas deputy who arrested a woman in July for calling him a “fat bastard” was fired this week for allowing his personal feelings to influence his decision. Though the deputy made a mistake by arresting the woman, he should not be fired. Instead, he should have been placed on a suspension without pay while taking classes on anger management.

On July 13, Maryellen Ruvolo received a ticket for parking in a fire lane at a Pinellas Kmart. She was given a ticket by Deputy Manuel Dominguez. After receiving the ticket, Ruvolo replied with a comment along the lines of, “Thanks for the ticket, you fat bastard.”This is clearly out of line and disrespectful, but it is not against the law to call a deputy a “fat bastard.” She was arrested for disorderly conduct. Her appeal overturned the charge, and it was determined that making such a comment, while it may be rude, was not an arrestable crime.

Police officers risk their lives every day to maintain peace and order, but sometimes stress can cause them to make poor decisions. However, abusing one’s power is unacceptable. Dominguez could have been the better person by ignoring her comments or telling her it was unnecessary to be rude. Arresting her was his personal revenge.

After 16 years on the force, Dominguez has probably dealt with a great deal of stress, but with recent increases in security and heightened stress due to the Sept. 11 attacks, perhaps he was responding in too emotional a manner.

Instead of firing him, the county should give him an opportunity to redeem himself and show that he made a poor decision by placing him on leave. He should also be made to attend anger management counseling so he can learn to better gauge his emotions and decisions when placed in challenging situations.