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Nienhuis Cuts 75 Seconds of Dash Cam Video While Demanding Trust in His Leadership

UPDATE: Yesterday, R News reported that a dash-cam video posted on Facebook by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office was missing 75 seconds, but officials refused to explain why.

Today, pressure from the community forced officials to respond, not directly to our emails, but by publishing their reason on another Facebook post.

The post reads: On 03-06-2024, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office posted dash cam video of a recent arrest in the rear parking lot of Home Goods in Brooksville.

A portion of the dash cam video was redacted/removed due to an individual who appeared in the video who was not the subject of the arrest.

With additional time the Sheriff's Office was able to further redact the video to protect the individual's identity while still showing the dash cam video in its entirety.

Dodging media inquiries and banning citizens from the agency's Facebook page for making critical comments is chipping away at public trust in Nienhuis and his administration. Publishing arrest videos with obvious edits without explanation is an invitation for criticism and allegations of coverups, even if none exist. Adding to public skepticism, Nienhuis has never made a single announcement on social media or through traditional news outlets about the $300 million he's about to spend on a new Sheriff's Office Compound.

Public Information Officer Denise Moloney is the highest-paid PIO in the state and ranks in the top percentile of PIOs in the country, with a base salary of over $95K. There are at least three other employees who work as Social Media Managers (PIOs) alongside Moloney, but the agency rarely holds press conferences and never responds to media inquiries by R News. To allege that they didn't have enough time to censor an individual who was not party to the incident is not an acceptable excuse. Other Tampa Bay area reporters have voiced the same concerns regarding Moloney and Nienhuis but out of fear of similar retaliation, they cannot openly voice their complaints.

On a final note, the Sheriff's Office has no obligation to protect anyone's identity on dash-cam video because there is no expectation of privacy in a public place. The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that Marsy's Law no longer applies to victims of crime or law enforcement officers. Most government agencies in Florida are complying with that ruling but Nienhuis continues to cite Marsy's Law and redact public information from record requests – and Nienhuis refuses to explain why he is violating the law.

ORIGINAL STORY:

BROOKSVILLE – Under a veil of secrecy the Hernando Board of County Commissioners is poised to hand over an estimated $300 million for Sheriff Al Nienhuis to build his new "windowless kingdom," but that's not the only reason citizens of Hernando County are starting to lose trust in the current regime.

Since the former Real News Real Fast's exposé into Sheriff Nienhuis' coverup of criminal activity inside one of President Joe Biden's federally funded domestic violence shelters, Nienhuis and his chief gatekeeper, Public Information Officer Denise Moloney, have ramped up efforts to conceal public information and use KGB-style methods of intimidation and retaliation against anyone who expresses critical viewpoints. Just in the last 2 years, the agency has blocked over 300 citizens from accessing the agency's Facebook page, a direct violation of the First Amendment, charges outrageous fees for public records, and even gone so far as to "hide" public information before it reaches the records department.

in addition to Nienhuis' endeavors to slip a multimillion-dollar compound under your noses, the BOCC gave Nienhuis $12.5 million in 2021 to introduce a new P25 digital communication system that encrypts all radio traffic and prohibits scanner enthusiasts from listening to Fire Rescue and Law Enforcement activity. That program is already complete and should go into effect by the end of March.

Every year since his appointment by then-Governor Charlie Crist in 2010, Nienhuis has demanded millions in increases to his annual budget. This year's budget reached $78 million, which included a $12 million increase from the year before. So, why does Nienhuis refuse to spend an estimated $300,000 per year to outfit his deputies with Body Worn Cameras (BWCs)? Many have come to the conclusion that there is only one reason – Nienhuis operates a zero-transparency government agency – in other words, he's a "Marxist."

Today, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office posted dash-cam video of a felony traffic stop involving an alleged grand theft auto suspect. The 2-minute, 23-second video shows deputies stop a pickup truck, hold the suspect at gunpoint, order him to the ground, and then place him into handcuffs. But something odd happens at that point in the video. At 17:13:04 the video suddenly skips 1 minute and 15 seconds to 17:14:19. What is missing from the 75 seconds? CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

Those who viewed the video speculate that it could be anything from deputies using vulgar language to possibly being too aggressive with the suspect. No one is alleging that the deputies committed a crime or violated policy, so why the effort to conceal that portion of the video? It's the decision to edit that portion of the video that prompts residents to demand the use of BWCs in Hernando County and question Nienhuis' true motives.

Former NYPD Officer Joe Puglia says: As it relates to body-worn cameras, in order for a law enforcement agency to have the trust of the community they are serving, they are a must. That is a difficult concept for a bureaucrat to understand. As the CEO of a law enforcement agency, it is easy for you to feel this is your "domain" but at the end of the day, you have the privilege of serving at the will of the people. If it's the will of the people you serve to have body-worn cameras, you better bring them on.

I personally support the use of body-worn cameras. You, as the CEO, must set the tone for the troops. operate in accordance with agency policy and the law and it will be no problem. You have to trust in your troops. In addition, I would love nothing more than to use that body camera footage to defend my deputies to the end.

As to the reason why there is an apparent "splice" in the video, I couldn't tell you. I can't think of a reason. Now if we had body-worn cameras – there wouldn't be any wondering – would there?

Sheriff Nienhuis is running for a third term unopposed, but there is speculation that a candidate will throw his hat in the ring later this month.

 

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