Hillsborough County leaders call for gang policy

Posted at 7:57 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 19:57:04-04

Our I-Team investigation into criminal motorcycle gangs has Hillsborough County commissioners looking into policy changes within the fire department.

The I-Team has confirmed at least three Tampa Bay firefighters are members of these gangs.

I-Team: Uncovering the Tampa Bay firefighters who run with criminal motorcycle gangs

Hillsborough's County Administrator Mike Merrill and county commissioners tell us they were shocked when we first uncovered two Hillsborough Fire Rescue firefighters are also members of the Outlaws, a criminal motorcycle gang defined by federal law enforcement.

Fire Captain and EMT James Costa is a known president of the Outlaws St. Pete Chapter.

Firefighter and EMT Clint Walker is a known Outlaw member and is facing a charge of battery on a law enforcement officer after he was recently tased by a St. Pete officer at a bar.

The I-Team confirmed Hillsborough's fire department doesn't have a policy keeping firefighters from joining criminal gangs, something county leaders want to change.

"We don't want that to happen," Hillsborough Chairman Commissioner Les Miller said. "We question those types of decisions to be a part of that.  We'll work this out, and we'll put a policy in place. And if they don't adhere to that policy then other measures will have to be taken. Whether part of that Outlaw gang or a white supremacy group, we're gonna put forth those policies in place and anyone who wants to work for Hillsborough County won't be a part of those things."

"That's something we should take seriously," County Administrator Mike Merrill said. In terms of a policy change Merrill says, "Probably not just for the department but there's an interest in looking for a policy within the entire organization."

"The Department of Justice has clearly said that these groups like the Outlaws are criminal type gangs, I mean they've said that very clearly," County Commissioner Sandra Murman said. "That's an issue we take very seriously here."

In Pasco County, Fire Captain and Paramedic Glen Buzze is a member and chapter president of the Pagans, another known "criminal gang." Pasco County officials there are also considering a policy change after our report.

I-Team: Pasco Sheriff's Office calls for a criminal motorcycle gang policy in the fire department

It is important to note that since joining the ranks of firefighter, none of the three firefighters have been convicted of a crime and Buzze and Costa have not been charged with committing any crimes.

Hillsborough County leaders are meeting with Sheriff Gee and the chief June 6 to discuss their gang policies in the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.