Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

But Officer, Didn't You See My Decal?

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

But Officer, Didn't You See My Decal?

Article excerpt

He doesn't mind being asked for money and says it might be for a good cause.

But a Bradenton man just doesn't feel right about how some law enforcement leaders are asking.

Not that the letter Frank Kinney got is rude or overly demanding. And I'd hope not. It came, after all, from Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube on behalf of the Florida Sheriffs Association, "one of the largest and oldest law enforcement organizations in the nation."

It was a form letter seeking money for that organization. Steube's name was robo-signed, and there's the image of a sheriff's star, all with his permission. As happens every year, sheriffs all over Florida have put their names on similar letters seeking $25, $50 or $100 donations to the FSA.

The letters tell about good things that are done with the money. It provides specialized training for law officers and funds the Sheriff's Explorer youth program, and so on. Fine print says the organization is not part of state government, but as far as I know it is a good organization that does what it says it does.

I also like that the letter devotes a fair amount of words to warn about solicitations made by other organizations, often by phone, that claim a law enforcement connection.

"Florida sheriffs do not endorse fund raising projects or advertising sales conducted by telephone," it says, and especially so by anyone "representing a law enforcement group or association." I much agree, as people claiming to be cops or working for them ought not press people for money. No matter what words are used, it comes off, to some, as a squeeze.

But that's the irony here, because this very letter uses a similar ploy, Kinney says.

For $25 you become an honorary member of the sheriff's associations, it says. That gets you "a distinctive green and gold window decal that shows your support for Florida Sheriffs." For $50, they throw in a Sheriff's Association tag for the front of your car, and for more money you get other visuals for your car to signal your support. …

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