Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport Police Chief Jim Carlino had a long and messy neighbor dispute while living in Georgia, and now a similar problem has followed him here.
Elizabeth Flower, a neighbor of Carlino, said she opened her front door one morning about a year ago and was confronted by the chief, who was angry.
Carlino ordered her to stop feeding her pet peacocks and fertilizing her plants, Flower said, because his dogs were eating the bird seed and fertilizer from her yard.
"I told him we had a leash law, and that his dogs shouldn't be in my yard anyway," Flower said. "One second after I said it he exploded and called me a 'selfish bitch.'"
Flower obtained a concealed weapons permit because of the confrontation.
She and another neighbor say they are terrified of Carlino, 47, who they say is a source of problems in their tranquil neighborhood on Westmoreland Drive in south Manatee County.
Other neighbors say Carlino is a model of civility.
An officer's relationship with neighbors is important -- so much so that it is part of the state pre-hire background check for law enforcement officers in Florida -- because it is one way to evaluate whether the person is suited to police work.
Officials at Sarasota-Bradenton International never conducted an independent background check before hiring Carlino in 2008, when he was an Atlanta police lieutenant. They never read 1,000 pages of internal affairs investigations about Carlino in his personnel file as required by a mandatory Florida Department of Law Enforcement pre-hire background check.
Flower's allegations, and those of another woman, are nearly identical to complaints raised by one of Carlino's former neighbors from Atlanta, William Sanders, an attorney who filed a series of internal affairs complaints against Carlino that took three years and a court order to resolve, according to court records.
Carlino tried to have one of his current neighbors arrested, that neighbor said.
He tried to have Sanders arrested twice, according to reports in his Atlanta police personnel file.
What started as harsh words has evolved into calls to the sheriff's office and allegations by both sides, as well as anonymous referrals to the county's code enforcement and animal services departments.
After Carlino's outburst at her front door, Flower said she sent the chief a letter telling him to stay off her property. "He scares me," she said. "He's mean and threatening."
Carlino denies using any profanity or mentioning his dogs to his neighbors. He was there on behalf of the neighborhood, he said, to tell Flower the bird seed was attracting vermin.
Christie Abbott, who lives across the street from Carlino, said she also is fearful of him.
"I am absolutely afraid of him, not so much in a physical way," Abbott said. "I am scared of him in a he-will-do-anything sort of way." Abbott said Carlino began spreading rumors about her in their neighborhood. "Hurtful rumors," she said.
Another Carlino neighbor, Marnie Matarese, called the Herald-Tribune at Carlino's request. She had nothing but praise for the police chief; she is also his Realtor.
"He's very conscientious. He's a very good neighbor," Matarese said.
Neighbor Brent Klein, who called the newspaper at Matarese's urging, said he has never had any problems with Carlino. "He's a good guy, a family guy," Klein said. "If there's another side to him, I've never seen it."
Carlino, whose house is under contract for sale, described his relationship with Abbott as "fine." His relationship with Flower is good, too, he said. "I like both of them," he said.
AIRPORT POLICE CHIEF:
Jim Carlino again faces complaints by neighbors
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