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Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Bill Nesmith may have violated county policy by carrying a loaded gun in a county-owned vehicle

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Chief Bill Nesmith may have violated county policy by carrying a loaded gun in a county-owned vehicle.Nesmith, 59, was arrested Saturday night at his Indian Rocks Beach condo after his wife, Beverly, told Pinellas County deputies he threatened to kill her and then himself, an arrest report said.Deputies evacuated neighboring condos as a precaution before Nesmith was called out of the home, sheriff's spokesman Jim Bordner said.He was released from the Pinellas County Jail on Sunday after posting $5,000 bail.A .380 automatic handgun was found inside a Hillsborough County vehicle Nesmith drives and a .38-caliber revolver was found in his personal vehicle, Bordner said.Both guns were loaded, he said.Bringing weapons onto county property, including vehicles, is a violation of policy, County Administrator Pat Bean said."I will make certain someone talks to him," she said. "We go from there. He will be treated the same as any other county employee."Bean said she is holding off on making a separate decision about the gun because the county is waiting to see whether anything further develops out of the Pinellas sheriff's investigation."We want to wrap it up all at one time," she said. "And so, we're waiting to see what's going to happen."
After the county reviews the discovery of the gun, someone will have to decide on discipline, Bean said."Depending on how severe the recommendation is, that would be me," she said.Bean said she didn't recall any other discipline issues relating to Nesmith, who was hired as assistant chief in January 1994 and was promoted to fire chief in October 1996.Nesmith oversees fire protection and emergency services in a 931-square-mile area and manages a budget of more than $110 million. He is paid $139,000 a year.On Monday, Nesmith was placed on paid leave.
Sheriff's deputies will meet with the state attorney's office on March 17 to report on the domestic battery investigation, and prosecutors will determine whether to proceed with the charge, Bordner said.Deputies have been called to the Nesmith residence before, Bordner said.
On Feb. 25, the sheriff's office responded to the home on a report of a domestic argument in progress, Bordner said. The matter was peacefully settled within an hour and no charges were filed, he said.



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