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Law academy taps 2 new leaders

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco-Hernando State College has hired a new leadership team for its law enforcement academy, which has been embroiled in a dispute with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and experienced more controversy in November when two instructors were fired after a sexual harassment investigation.

The college announced this week that Charlie May has been named the new director of public service programs and Patricia Maxwell is the new instructor coordinator.

College President Katherine Johnson said in a prepared statement that the two are “well credentialed, seasoned law enforcement professionals with strong local ties to law enforcement agencies and law enforcement education.

“Both leaders are passionate about training new officers who are highly skilled, ethical and ready to serve the public that depends on local law enforcement officers for safety and protection,” Johnson said.

The college’s law enforcement academy has had its struggles in recent months. The academy’s relationship with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has eroded and Sheriff Chris Nocco began discussions with the Pasco school district about establishing a separate police academy at Marchman Technical Education Center.

The sheriff’s office said its concerns included problems with equipment, access to facilities and classrooms and the location of the academy at the college’s Dade City campus. The sheriff also has complained that the academy allowed unqualified instructors to teach specialized classes and denied “many of our qualified members to instruct at the academy.”

Another issue cited was the “ethics” of the instructors teaching at the academy, which the sheriff’s office said had been a problem for years.

In November, two instructors, James Nagy and Don Ruminer, were fired after an investigation of a sexual harassment claim against Ruminer. Nagy was fired because he did not cooperate with the investigation, but he was not involved with the harassment, college officials said at the time.

The college’s public services director at that time, Nancy Bunch, was placed on probation for not taking action. She announced she would be retiring in January, but college officials said her retirement was already planned and not related to the investigation.

Lucy Miller, marketing director, said the college does not know whether the injection of new leadership into the law enforcement academy will make a difference in Nocco’s plans to establish a separate academy.

“We’re just moving forward in good faith and trying to offer the best programs we can,” Miller said. “It’s a new chapter for our program. We have always been open to listening to the sheriff and his suggestions.”

Nocco could not be reached for comment.

Although Bunch had planned to retire at the end of January, she extended her retirement date while the college searched for her successor, which took longer than expected, Miller said. Bunch’s last day is scheduled for April 4, and the college is “very grateful” for the leadership she provided, Miller said.

The newly named director of public service programs has ties to the sheriff’s office.

May is a retired forensic services chief who worked for the sheriff’s office for 25 years. During his tenure, he also served as a corporal in the officer’s training division, where he developed new officer and civilian curriculum and provided orientation training.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Saint Leo University. Since 2002, he has served as an adjunct instructor in PHSC’s law enforcement academy, teaching courses in criminalistics, police organization and administration. May also has taught as an adjunct professor in the criminal justice department at Saint Leo.

Maxwell, an adjunct law enforcement instructor at Hillsborough Community College, was most recently employed by Murphy Oil Corp. as an assistant terminal manager, responsible for security, implementing and maintaining best-management practices and coordinating training programs, PHSC reported.

She also is a former Temple Terrace police officer, holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology and is a graduate of the Tampa Police Academy.

“With new leadership in place, PHSC’s law enforcement academy is ready to continue our strong, long-standing tradition of meeting the training needs of our agency partners,” Johnson said in her statement.

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Reporter Eddie Daniels contributed to this report.

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