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Jax Daily Record Monday, Oct. 5, 201512:00 PM EST

50 years ago: Suspended detectives returned to work by Civil Service Board

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by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Four Duval County detectives who were near the end of a six-week suspension handed down by Sheriff Dale Carson — who also recommended they be fired — were restored to their jobs after a two-day hearing before the Civil Service Board.

The board ruled that Lt. R.O. Headen and Sgts. C.L. Cody, Donald Coleman and Claude West be reinstated with back pay.

However, the five-member panel upheld Carson’s 30-day suspension of the officers which started Aug. 27 on grounds they violated internal rules and regulations of the department.

The men filed an appeal of Carson’s action, which followed an investigation of whether there was a violation of security policy resulting from distribution of a document.

The papers, notes concerning the internal investigation of the four officers, were written by Sheriff’s Office clerk John Keane. The document was copied and the copies distributed throughout the detective division.

The four pages of handwritten notes were taken from a briefcase in a restricted area of the sheriff’s office.

Keane contended the document was his personal property and represented notes he made to refresh his memory during a departmental interview he was anticipating.

The interview, he said, was to be one of many conducted by the sheriff’s research and planning committee.

Keane said he put the notes in a briefcase and then put it on top of a filing cabinet in his office in the identification section, a restricted area.

Keane said he didn’t know the notes had been disturbed until a confrontation with Coleman.

Coleman threatened to sue Keane for libel if anyone was suspended because of the papers, which contained statements about Coleman and other officers, Keane testified.

Another department employee, Donald Tilley, told the board he took the notes from Keane’s briefcase and then made a photocopy which he gave to Coleman. For his part in the incident, Tilley was suspended for 30 days.

The investigation came to a head when Headen was asked by Carson and Duval County Patrol Chief William Johnston to give a statement telling what he knew about the papers.

They said Headen refused to comment on several of their questions, denied any knowledge of the papers and said he would not sign a statement.

Carson said he was surprised by Headen’s lack of cooperation and failure, as a ranking officer, to take the papers to his superiors for any appropriate action.

Carson and Johnston said they were surprised when, during an interview, Cody said he saw “a dark cloud over Duval County” and that Carson “should pack his bags and get out of town.”

West was dismissed for a similar threat — that any suspension following the investigation would “blow the roof off the top of the sheriff’s office.”

During testimony, West said he meant he would appeal to the Civil Service Board if any action were taken against him.

He said he felt he was being unjustly investigated and that someone was out to get him.

Cody testified that Carson asked his advice on how to remedy certain undesirable situations in the sheriff’s office.

“I think the best thing for you to do is to pack your bags and leave Duval County,” Cody said he told the sheriff, maintaining he was simply giving Carson honest advice upon request.

In his closing statement to the board, sheriff’s office attorney Donald Bruce contended the distribution of Keane’s notes disrupted the operation of the organization, thus violating departmental rules and regulations.

He argued Carson showed just cause in suspending the appellants and recommending their permanent dismissal because of uncooperativeness and threats during the investigation.

Tom McKee, attorney for the officers, said his clients acted with good intentions when they distributed copies of the notes.

He also said the “whole matter was blown out of proportion” by the sheriff’s office, putting his clients in a situation not created by them.

• The City Commission adopted and sent to City Council for its approval a $68 million general fund budget for 1966 that included $14 million for sewer system improvements. It was described as “the first major step in recent years to fight river pollution.”

Commissioner of Highways and Sewers Henry Broadstreet said the projects planned in the budget would eliminate 25-35 percent of the raw sewage flowing daily into the St. Johns River.

As an example, he said outfall lines would be built in the river to remove 1.5 million gallons a day draining into the river from McCoys and Willowbranch creeks alone.

The outfall lines would carry the sewage north to the city’s sewage treatment plant on Talleyrand Avenue near 14th Street, Broadstreet said.

In addition, an interceptor line would be placed in McCoys Creek to pick up industrial wastes along that route and deliver the captured contaminants to the treatment plant.

The commission’s budget, when combined with the council’s proposed spending plan for 1966 totaled $126 million.

Property taxes were expected to produce about $1.1 million in additional revenue compared to the 1965 budget without an increase in the 20.3 mill city tax rate.

City Tax Assessor W.F. Wilson said property values within the city limits were up about 20 percent compared to 1964 valuations.

• Carter Nice was appointed concertmaster and assistant conductor of the Orlando-based Florida Symphony Orchestra.

Nice, 25, succeeded Patricio Salvatierra, the Chilean concertmaster who was unable to renew his passport for entry into the United States for the 1965 season, according to Henry Mazer, symphony director.

The new concertmaster’s father was C. Carter Nice, conductor of Jacksonville’s Starlight Symphonette.

• David Plaster, a Jacksonville firefighter who went into a deadly, fume-choked sewer manhole to rescue two city employees, was named Florida’s first “Fireman of the Year.”

Plaster, 29, was presented a plaque citing his service beyond the call of duty by State Treasurer and Fire Marshal Broward Williams in Tallahassee as part of the observance of Fire Prevention Week.

• The state Parks Service announced that $8,600 was appropriated for improvements at Little Talbot Island State Park.

Picnic tables and grills would be installed at the campsite area, water and electric lines would be installed for the 60 sites, a snake fence would be constructed and roads would be paved.

• This week in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson declared the U.S. would be a safe haven for Cubans who wanted to flee the Communist country 90 miles south of Key West.

Gov. Haydon Burns, former mayor of Jacksonville, said if the federal government was going to allow thousands of Cuban refugees to enter the country, they must be dispersed nationwide to prevent economic havoc in Florida.

“This avalanche of refugees thrust on Miami would play economic havoc there and all over South Florida,” Burns said.

In a letter to Johnson, Burns asked the government to establish a “specific dispersal policy,” including that refugees be sent to temporary housing outside South Florida.

He also asked the government to be prepared to send the refugees back to Cuba when they could return under a democratic form of government.

• Joseph Crescimbeni, professor in Jacksonville University’s Division of Education, wrote two articles that were published in the October issues of professional journals.

They were “To Enrich Mathematical Enquiry,” published in The Instructor; and “What is Teaching?,” published in Education magazine.

• A 12-block-long parade Downtown kicked off the 1965 campaign for the United Fund and underscored the services rendered by the 44 agencies affiliated with the fund.

Floats of all sizes, including a few pulled by toddlers, voiced a plea for support of the effort to raise $1.7 million in funds.

The parade was led by the Jacksonville Naval Air Station Band, followed by eight high school marching bands, set the tempo for the display that started and ended at the Civic Auditorium.

• Jacksonville’s Community Television station, WJCT, was in line for about $500,000 in grants from the Ford Foundation.

The ultimate amount would be determined by the level of public financial support for Channel 7, said Fred Rebman, general manager.

He said the foundation would make matching grants from $50,000 to $500,000 in each of the next four years and that $10 million was set aside for the program.

For each $1 a station received from the public by Jan. 1, the foundation would contribute 75 cents.

Rebman said based on collections received in the first nine months of 1965, he expected to receive at least $50,000 in private contributions before the deadline.

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