Another high-ranking member of the Florida Highway Patrol has lost his job in connection with the controversy over illegal ticket quotas at the agency.
Lt. Col. Mike Thomas, FHP’s deputy director, this week submitted a resignation letter effective Sept. 1 informing the department he is taking early retirement.
Thomas’ resignation followed a review by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the agency that oversees FHP, in which it was determined that Thomas encouraged members of the agency “to achieve specific citation numbers through emails that were sent without Colonel (Gene) Spaulding’s authorization.” Spaulding is FHP’s director.
“This was a grave error on my behalf,” Thomas wrote in his retirement letter said. “I made this mistake and take responsibility for my actions. This error has negatively impacted the patrol’s image, which was never the intent, but I feel it is in the best interest of the patrol that I retire.”
Thomas wrote an email back in May to six top officials at FHP in which he told six top officials at the agency to encourage troopers “to maintain our 2.0 citations per hour ratio as we attempt to provide a safer driving environment for Floridians.”
One of the top officials included in the email was FHP Col. Spaulding.
“Although Lieutenant Colonel Thomas’ emails were sent with the intention of ensuring accountability of our members and providing enhanced public safety, it was inappropriate to request a specific number of citations from our members,” Spaulding said in a statement released following the submission of Thomas’s retirement letter. “FHP does not set quotas as part of its mission, therefore I have accepted Lieutenant Colonel Thomas’ request for early retirement.”
Thomas is the second top FHP official to leave the department in the past couple of weeks.
Major Mark Welch, the commander of an eight-county region in the Tallahassee area, announced his retirement after it was discovered he sent an email to his troopers encouraging them to write two citations an hour.
In a written statement, a DHSMV spokeswoman said: “FHP is still reviewing if any directives were given as a result of the Lt. Colonel’s email and any personnel decisions will be made when considering the totality of the circumstances on a case-by-case basis.”