10 News Investigators: Milton Jenkins promoted to fire marshal, despite bad evaluations

10:54 AM, Jan 15, 2013   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida -- Bad evaluations, continued screws ups on the job, and questionable judgment usually mean a ticket to unemployment. However, instead of getting kicked out the door, Milton Jenkins has been kicked upstairs and given a promotion that is critical to citizen safety.

Tampa Fire Chief Thomas Forward said, "I can tell you with respect to this promotion I have the up most confidence in Milton."

Jenkins, who has been the subject of other 10 News investigations, was just promoted to the job of protecting citizens from arsonists.

When we reminded Forward that Jenkins was once called incompetent, the chief said, "That's right, but I didn't call him incompetent."

Among the reason Jenkins was called incompetent is the fact that his department-issued weapon was stolen from him not once, but twice. The second time it was taken by Jenkins' son, who used it in a home invasion. Jenkins didn't properly report it.

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After the second incident, we went to Jenkins' home two years ago and asked how it could happen twice. Jenkins said, "I don't want to say anything."

In addition, Jenkins, who was also charged with insubordination and not following rules, was also evaluated as: requiring assistance on routine matters; not reliable under unusual circumstance; having disinterest in the job; and reacting negatively to criticism.

While the chief wrote in Jenkins evaluation that he has an incentive to succeed and has great potential, he wouldn't disagree with negative characterizations of Jenkins.

Forward said, "But we have to take into consideration some of the information. Even in the evaluation, it is subjective."

When we reminded the chief he said he concurred with the evaluation, he first said, "No! No!"

Then, he admitted, "Well, yeah."

And once we showed the chief his signature on the evaluations, he said, "It does, it does. It says I concur. Absolutely."

After Jenkins had his gun stolen for a second time in 2010, the chief said it was inexcusable. Jenkins' judgment was also called into question when he was paid overtime to work the Gasparilla Classic. Instead of manning his post, Jenkins and three other assistant fire marshals left and had breakfast at a restaurant while on the clock.

The chief, who promoted Jenkins, said it is not an activity condoned by the department. "No dereliction of duty, poor performance of duty, it's not acceptable. We do not embrace that, nor do we support it," he said.

Jenkins was acting fire marshal when the department was trying to solve the case of the Ybor City arsonist in 2010. Some say he botched that assignment. At the time, Mayor Pam Iorio pulled Jenkins and the fire department off the lead role in the investigation. When the former mayor put the police department in charge, she apologized to the neighborhood, saying the investigation was not handled with the sense of urgency and coordination that she expected.

Chief Forward said, "At that time, the mayor didn't remove [the fire department], she increased the collaboration."

However, when we told him the mayor was not happy with the way the fire department handled the task, Forward said, "Granted, but I can't speak for the mayor, what she specifically meant."

Milton Jenkins' promotion was not finalized until he received a $1,000 city bonus that managers are not eligible for. Meanwhile, Jenkins fought the fire department designation of incompetence and an arbitrator overruled the fire department.

Jenkins also disagreed with the negative evaluations, but those findings stand. 

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