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Florida fire commissioner arrested for refusing to wear a mask, resisting arrest

The official was carrying concealed weapon at the time
Posted at 6:29 PM, Dec 07, 2020

KEY WEST, Fla. — A Pinellas County fire commissioner ended up behind bars in Key West after police say he refused to wear a mask.

James Dalrymple, who serves on the East Lake Fire Rescue Commission, was arrested Wednesday on Duval Street, the famous Key West tourist destination lined with restaurants, shops and bars.

The police report said he was one of four people the officer spotted crossing the street, not wearing a mask, as required by a local ordinance.

The officer says he approached him and asked him to comply, but in his report, he says Dalrymple replied, “The Governor’s order says we do not have to.”

Dalrymple says his arrest was the result of a misunderstanding.

His friend, Kim Adams shot video of what happened next with her cell phone and posted it to YouTube and on Facebook.

During the encounter, Key West Police Officer Leonardo Hernandez asked Dalrymple for his ID.

“I don’t have any ID with me,” Dalrymple told him.

“I’m going to ask you one more time, sir, ID please,” said Hernandez.

“I don’t have any ID with me,” Dalrymple told him but did disclose his name.

The I-Team reported in late October about Dalrymple’s East Lake Fire Commission race.

His campaign signs said firefighters supported him, but the union representing firefighters at that department voted 30-to-0 to endorse one of his opponents instead.

Dalrymple was fined by Pinellas County Code Enforcement for repeated violations of the county sign ordinance but was re-elected to the board.

Just five weeks later, Dalrymple found himself on the wrong side of the law again in Key West.

He said his identification card was in his wife's purse.

While Officer Hernandez was telling Dalrymple to put his hands behind his back, his wife, Tammy Dalrymple, was removing a concealed handgun from his back pocket.

She posted on Facebook that she and her husband both have concealed carry permits.

Tammy Dalrymple said she took the gun from her husband because she worried the incident might escalate.

"If you saw the officer's eyes, you would have too!" she posted.

A police spokesperson said officers were not aware that Dalrymple had a gun at the time of his arrest.

The police report says Dalrymple's wife handed his Florida identification to another officer.

Dalrymple was arrested for obstruction of justice.

"He's a fire commissioner up in Palm Harbor. He's a very good, outstanding citizen," Kim Adams said to Officer Hernandez, as Dalrymple was being led away in handcuffs.

"Then he should know better," Hernandez said.

Dalrymple declined an on-camera interview, but he said he spent 22 hours in a jail holding cell with five people who were not wearing masks.

He has hired an attorney to represent him.

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