Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Findings and Notice of Intent to Discipline Police Chief and Fire Chief



 

The following outlines the findings and intent to discipline Fire Rescue Chief Chris Byrne from City Manager Mike McNees. 

Factual Background 

On January 20, 2021 City staff members were preparing for the first opportunity to offer  the Covid-19 vaccination on Marco Island. A web link had been provided by Collier  County to the Eventbrite platform to allow reservations for those vaccinations to be  made. That link was to be made available on the City of Marco Island website and  through the City’s collateral social media accounts at 2:00 p.m. on that day. 

At approximately 1:50 p.m. Fire Chief Chris Byrne was notified by Collier County staff  that the reservation link had been compromised, and that one reservation for  vaccination had already been made. That reservation had been made by Mr. William  Frazzano, the husband of Marco Island Police Chief Tracy Frazzano. With public opening  of the web portal looming, Chief Byrne chose not to attempt to purge the one early  registration in that moment so as not to interfere with the upcoming registrations. He  did speak to Chief Frazzano, who indicated that she had provided the Eventbrite link to  her husband, believing that the link would go live at 2:00 p.m. as planned. 

At 2:00 p.m. on January 20 the Eventbrite registration link went live on the City’s various  portals, and approximately 3 minutes later all available reservations had been filled. 

On January 22, 2021 Mr. William Frazzano, who is 65 years of age or older and a Florida  resident appeared at Veterans Community Park on Marco Island and received the Covid 19 vaccination for which he had secured the reservation on January 20. 

Analysis and Findings 

It is a fundamental tenet of ethical public service that as public employees we conduct  ourselves in a manner that merits the trust and respect of our communities. It is also  fundamental that we not leverage our public positions for personal gain or benefit.

Fire Chief Chris Byrne’s decision not to attempt to purge the early registration in the  minutes before the system went live is understandable under the circumstances.  Ensuring that the process be completed smoothly was an appropriate overarching goal.  After the fact however Chief Byrne’s tacit approval of Mr. Frazzano receiving the vaccine  under the circumstances represents a clear failure to balance his desire to “do good”  with his professional and ethical responsibilities to the community. This breach is  compounded by the fact that allowing Mr. Frazzano to receive the vaccination required  that Chief Byrne not report the breach. While his sensitivity to Chief Frazzano’s health  demonstrates compassion and empathy, his inability to temper that instinct to help with  appropriate professional decision-making represents a serious lapse in judgment. 

Availability of and access to the Covid-19 vaccination is far and away the most sensitive issue currently of these times. Chief Byrne’s lack of sensitivity to that issue, and his  desire to help Chief Frazzano ahead of a carefully devised and fair public process to  distribute the vaccine represent serious lapses of judgment on his part. As Fire Chief he  is in position to guide others in the delivery of emergency medical services and must  appropriately balance what are often conflicting priorities. He is the role model. 

In holding Chief Byrne accountable for this lapse fairness dictates that this failure in  judgment be balanced against his otherwise clean record in more than thirty years of  employment with the Marco Island Fire Department and its predecessor organization. 

It is my determination that Chris Byrne will be suspended from his duties as Fire Chief for the City of Marco Island for a period of thirty calendar days though I will offer him a  predetermination meeting within 24 hours before this decision is final. Thereafter, the period of suspension will commence at a time to be determined, but no later than  March 1, 2021. During that period he will not participate in the operation of the  department in any way, and will receive no compensation or accrue any benefits as  would normally accrue to him as an employee of the department or the City of Marco  Island.

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The following outlines the findings and intent to discipline Police Chief Tracy Frazzano from  City Manager Mike McNees. 

Factual Background 

On January 20, 2021 City staff members were preparing for the first opportunity to offer  the Covid-19 vaccination on Marco Island. A web link had been provided by Collier  County to the Eventbrite platform to allow reservations for those vaccinations to be made. That link was to be made available on the City of Marco Island website and  through the City’s collateral social media accounts at 2:00 p.m. on that day. 

At approximately 1:50 p.m. Fire Chief Chris Byrne was notified by Collier County staff  that the reservation link had been compromised, and that one reservation for vaccination had already been made. That reservation had been made by Mr. William  Frazzano, the husband of Marco Island Police Chief Tracy Frazzano. With public opening  of the web portal looming, Chief Byrne chose not to attempt to purge the one early  registration in that moment so as not to interfere with the remaining registrations. He  did speak to Chief Frazzano, who indicated that she had provided the Eventbrite link to  her husband, believing that the link would go live at 2:00 p.m. as planned. 

At 2:00 p.m. on January 20 the Eventbrite registration link went live on the City’s various  portals, and approximately 3 minutes later all available reservations had been filled. 

On January 22, 2021 Mr. William Frazzano, who is 65 years of age or older and a Florida  resident appeared at Veterans Community Park on Marco Island and received the Covid 19 vaccination for which he had secured the reservation on January 20. 

Analysis and Findings 

A fundamental tenet of ethical public service is that as public employees we conduct  ourselves in a manner that merits the trust and respect of our communities. It is also  fundamental that we not leverage our public positions for personal gain or benefit.

The use of her position as Chief of Police to secure a coveted Covid-19 vaccination for  her husband represents a clear failure on the part of Chief Frazzano to meet those  standards. Even if early access to the registration system was provided inadvertently, as  she contends, the fact is that once it became clear that access had been prematurely  gained the vaccination was nevertheless still received by Mr. Frazzano. Chief Frazzano’s wish that her husband be vaccinated may have been amplified by her underlying health issues, but the same can be said for many of our residents facing similar issues. In  addition, as a first responder Chief Frazzano has already been vaccinated. 

Availability of and access to the Covid-19 vaccination is far and away the most sensitive  issue currently of these times. Chief Frazzano’s lack of sensitivity to that issue, and her  willingness to put her interest ahead of a carefully devised and fair public process to  distribute the vaccine represent serious lapses of judgment on her part. As Chief of  Police she is expected to be a role model in this situation, regardless of extenuating  personal circumstances. 

That said, the particular sensitivity of this issue should not overwhelm a career’s worth  of work, or the work the Chief has done on Marco Island. Accountability requires that  consequences ensue from this lapse of professional judgment. Fairness requires that  those consequences reflect the totality both of the current circumstances and Chief  Frazzano’s track record to date. 

In discussing these events with Chief Frazzano, she has made no excuses and expressed  contrition. She recognizes that even though providing the registration link to her  husband and not realizing it was already functional may have been an honest mistake,  her subsequent actions were not simple mistakes.  

It is my determination that Tracy Frazzano will be suspended from her duties as Chief of  Police for the City of Marco Island for a period of thirty calendar days though I will offer  her a predetermination meeting within 24 hours before this decision is final. Thereafter,  the period of suspension will commence at a time to be determined, but no later than  March 1, 2021. During that period she will not participate in the operation of the  department in any way, and will receive no compensation or accrue any benefits as  would normally accrue to her as an employee of the department or the City of Marco  Island. 


Read More Here

Bad Judgement Calls But No Nefarious


3 responses to “Findings and Notice of Intent to Discipline Police Chief and Fire Chief”

  1. Sam Young says:

    Lots happening and lots still not happening after I resigned from Council.

    Who’d have thought?

  2. anon says:

    New year, new chiefs, new scandals……..

    How did the Chief get access to the link before the general public and provide it to her husband?

    Weren’t Marco Residents supposed to get the Marco allocated vaccines? Doesn’t the Chief live in Naples???

  3. Jo Brisson says:

    Really sad that you would suspend over this – actually pretty ridiculous – Chris has always been a loyal servant to the community. We are living in a very stressful time right now – 30 days to be without.a chief is excessive and ridiculous . Do better – lessons learned , move on snd don’t suspend anyone for honest mistakes .

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