Hillsborough County is banning employees from participating in certain biker gangs and other criminal groups after a firefighter associated with the Outlaws motorcycle gang was accused of taking part in a bar fight in Key West.
The Tampa Bay Times reports in a memo Friday, County Administrator Mike Merrill outlined a new policy effective immediately barring membership in groups or gangs considered criminal organizations by the state or federal government.
Involvement in these organizations ``will not be tolerated as these affiliations are contrary to the mission of public service,'' Merrill wrote. ``This directive is a reminder of our continuing obligation to represent all the citizens of Hillsborough County.''
The list of banned organizations is guided by the 2015 FBI National Gang Report and it includes the Outlaws, as well as Crips, Bloods, Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and the Pagans.
Violating the rule can result in termination of employment.
The announcement comes after an arrest warrant was issued in Key West for Clinton Neal Walker, a Hillsborough County firefighter and suspected member of the Outlaws motorcycle gang. He is accused of taking part in a September bar fight involving as many as 15 Outlaws members.
Walker, 33, of Bradenton, is wanted on a misdemeanor battery charge. According to an arrest warrant, Walker and other Outlaws members beat up the manager and an employee at a downtown Key West bar.
Walker was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
According to the warrant, Walker is a ``confirmed active member'' of the Outlaws, considered by authorities to be the state's dominant motorcycle gang. It is strongest in South Florida but has chapters in Tampa and St. Petersburg.
According to the FBI, the Outlaws use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for crime, including trafficking in weapons and drugs.
Walker's attorney told Fox 13 news that Walker left the area before learning of the charges against him, but together they have made arrangements with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for Walker to turn himself in in nearly a month.
``On December 5, when he returns, he will be processed through the jail, as far as turning himself in,'' said Attorney Jerry Theophilopoulos, who added they have also made plans with a bail bondsmen to expedite the process.
He denied Walker's current involvement with the Outlaws.
``He's not involved with a gang. He was at one time a member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. He has not been a member for some time now.''