Monday, February 01, 2010

Two Officers Suspended After Secret Conversation Was Printed in Paper

North Myrtle Beach City Manager John Smithson announced Monday the suspension of two officers after secretly-recorded conversations were printed in The Sun News. The subject matter in this story may not be suitable for some readers.

The recordings, taped by a former NMB officer, contains what city leaders call derogatory and sexist remarks made by two employees of the Public Safety department.

Mayor Marilyn Hatley, Smithson, and council members held a news conference to address the recorded comments.

Those recordings were made by former North Myrtle Beach Lt. Randy Fisher, who says he was forced to resign from the department at the end of 2009.

The city leaders announced that the two men heard on the audio recordings, Major Walt Floyd and Lt. Don Repec have been placed on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation by the city manager's office.

In one of the recordings, Fisher, Floyd and Repec are heard discussing an incident where a 14-year-old girl and her 17-year-old boyfriend were found naked in a bed.

Fisher can be heard saying the boy violated the law and should be charged with criminal sexual conduct.

Floyd then says, "I'm not going to do a damn thing to him."

Floyd continues by saying the girl's parents should do a better job of raising her and that she should take pills so she won't get pregnant "because she can't take care of a child."

He then goes on to say women "like that" should be required to be neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

"If you're not able to take care of a consequential responsibility, then you shouldn't be having sex at that time," Lt. Repec is heard saying.

Repec then goes on to suggest the 14-year-old and 17-year-old should perform sexual acts other than intercourse to prevent pregnancy. NewsChannel 15 has chosen not to print what Repec said because of the graphic language used.

Floyd was serving as interim public safety director in the wake of former Public Safety Director William Bailey's suspension, investigation, and eventual demotion to lieutenant over lies he told after the theft of his service weapon from his truck.

Mayor Hatley said she and the council are dismayed, disgusted, and sickened by the content and graphic descriptions made by some of the city's public safety employees in the recordings.

She said they do not excuse the behavior, but Hatley says she's disappointed and disturbed that Fisher would allow these things to happen while he idly sat by, only reporting them after his termination.

Hatley said as a public safety officer, it was Fisher's duty and responsibility to bring the information to the city manager, and he did not do so.

When reached for comment Monday afternoon, Fisher said he did try to bring to light the issues he felt existed, by meeting with the assistant city manager in June of 2009. Fisher said he also wrote a letter in August and told the assistant city manager he had the tapes.

Fisher said nothing was ever done.

When asked if Fisher tried to bring to light the issues, city spokeswoman Nicole Aiello wrote in an e-mail:

"Mr. Fisher did bring some issues, like his allegations of favoritism, to management's attention, but Mr. Fisher did not bring anything along the lines of what was heard on The Sun News website to management. Mr. Fisher had a duty to bring these conversations and serious issues to the City Manager, and he did not do so."

Captain Rick Buddelmeyer has been named interim public safety director.

Officer Jeffery Gore Arrested for Domestic Violence

A Conway Police Officer has been suspended without pay, after being arrested for criminal domestic violence.

Senior Master Officer Jeffrey Gore was arrested by Horry County Police yesterday at his home outside of Loris. Conway City Administrator Bill Graham says Gore will remain off the job until his case is resolved and an internal investigation is completed.

Graham says the arrest stems from an incident involving Gore's former girlfriend on Saturday.

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Former Officer Alan Parker Sentenced for Theft

A former Dayton police officer was sentenced Monday after he was accused of using his position to break the law.

Alan W. Parker was sentenced to five years probation after spending 30 days in jail. He will also have to perform 100 hours of community service.

Parker was accused of theft in office. He pleaded guilty to several charges, including receiving stolen property and misusing the department’s computer to run license plates illegally.

Parker has since resigned from the police department.

Former Officer Joseph Campbell Charged with Theft of DARE Money

A former borough police officer accused of stealing funds directed to teach children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol surrendered on theft charges on Monday.

Joseph Campbell, 47, of Wyoming, was charged with five felony counts of theft. He turned himself in with his attorney, Peter Loftus, at the office of District Judge Joseph Carmody in West Pittston.

Luzerne County detectives charged Campbell, a former West Pittston police officer, with stealing more than $20,000 from 2002 to 2008, according to the criminal complaint.

Campbell was a DARE officer with the Wyoming Area School District.

West Pittston Borough Council terminated Campbell in November.

Campbell was released on $25,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled on Feb. 10 before Carmody.

Officer Robert Rhodes Arrested for Domestic Violence

A part-time Lowell police officer is being held in the Washington County Jail without bond, pending an arraignment today in Marietta Municipal Court on domestic violence charges.

According to Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks, Lowell police Officer Robert Rhodes, 31, of 9235 State Route 60, assaulted his wife Erika R. Rhodes, 30, early Saturday after an argument erupted over missing house keys.

According to officer's statements, Mrs. Rhodes claimed her husband was intoxicated and choked her in front of their children while she was seated in the driver's seat of their vehicle while it was parked outside their residence.

Investigating officers said the woman had marks on her neck consistent with her account.

Robert Rhodes was charged with domestic violence and transported to the Washington County Jail.

Lowell Police Chief Jeff Perry said he did not want to comment on the arrest until he had an opportunity to speak with Rhodes. He did say Rhodes had been with the department for three years with no disciplinary problems.

"He's still in jail and I haven't had an opportunity to speak with him," Perry said. "So I don't really want to comment until I can do that. I will have something to release on Monday."

Officer Courtney Harris Arrested for Rape

Courtney Harris, 33, was arrested on allegations of sexual misconduct. IMPD says Harris picked up a woman and took her to an industrial area, where he raped her. Police say he was on duty and in uniform.

A spokesperson tells Fox59 News IMPD is calling for the officer's resignation.

Harris has served with IMPD for nearly 6 years. We're told he was part of a special unit called SLED that investigates violent crime in "hot spots" around the city.

Prior to these recent allegations, Harris did not have any discipline problems with IMPD. The FBI is looking into the case, especially the issue of Harris' authority since we would have been armed when the alleged rape occured.

No formal charges have been filed against Harris. He's in jail on a $50,000 bond. The Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office requested a 72 hour continuance before filing charges so they can continue to investigate.

The victim was also arrested, police say she was wanted on an outstanding battery charge.

Const Brian Toner Sentenced for Drunk Driving

A police service disciplinary hearing has ruled that a veteran Edmonton constable must forfeit the equivalent of $4,800 in pay after being convicted of drunk driving in 2008.

Const. Brian Toner, 50, was convicted in May 2008 of having care and control of a vehicle while impaired. He was handed a conditional discharge and 18 months' probation in provincial court last April.

In a decision released by a police disciplinary body Monday, Toner was suspended without pay for 80 hours and will immediately forfeit 40 hours of accumulated overtime as penalty for his behaviour and criminal conviction.

"The [Edmonton Police] Service has been very clear and consistent in its messaging about drunk driving and investigations of those (citizens and members of the Service) who disobey the criminal law and disciplinary regulations," said police Supt Mark Logar, who presided over the disciplinary hearing. He said arguments on behalf of Toner by the police association and representatives of the police department "do not even begin to reflect the gravity of the Constable’s misconduct ... provide an entirely insufficient denunciation, and furthermore serve as insufficient general and specific deterrence."

In February 2006, Toner was found intoxicated and passed out in his parked and running car three blocks from the west division police station. He had been drinking after his shift with some colleagues in the station. He was found by a fellow officer, who brought him back to the station and charged him.

According to the conditions of his probation, Toner was to seek treatment for alcoholism. He was to abstain from alcohol and provide a breath sample whenever requested. He was to have performed 30 hours of community service and cannot be in bars when off-duty.

Toner also was banned from driving for one year. At his sentencing last year, Toner told the court he has struggled with binge drinking most of his adult life. The drinking got worse in 1990 after he shot a man who attacked him with a knife while he was responding to a call.

Toner attended a 56-day residential treatment program in B.C. after he was charged in 2006 and said he has been sober ever since.

Former Officer David Moore Arrested for Possession of Child Porn

FORMER national children's television police identity "Officer Dave" Moore has been committed to stand trial in Brisbane for possessing child pornography.

David Warren Moore, 54, stood stoically in Brisbane's Magistrates Court 34 this morning as Magistrate Judy Daley ordered him to stand trial in the District Court on one count of possessing child exploitation material.

In the 1980s Moore, a former police officer with the Police Department's public relations unit, was the well-known Brisbane-based face of policing in the media and featured on 35 television stations around Australia as a regular on Channel Seven's popular children shows Super Saturday and Wombat, alongside puppet Aggro.

He also appeared on Bailey and the Bird and three police documentaries.

Crown prosecutor Krystal Osbourne said Moore had originally been charged with one count each of copying a child abuse film and possessing child exploitation material.

She said the prosecution offered no evidence on the film charge, but intended to continue on the second charge.

Ms Osbourne, during a full hand-up committal hearing, tendered two statements and one VHS tape containing the alleged child pornography.

Lawyers for Moore did not require witnesses for cross-examination and said their client had given consent for the matter to be referred to the Brisbane District Court.

Ms Daley granted bail and remanded him to appear for trial on a date to be fixed.

Outside court and against advice by his lawyer, Moore said he had faith in the criminal justice system.

"I believe the court justice system is fair and, whatever," Moore said. "And, I am just happy to continue with the court system."

Officer Bisnette Dies After Speeding into Utility Pole

A state police accident investigator has determined that Worcester Police Officer Mark D. Bisnette was probably speeding when his sport utility vehicle struck a pole in Holden Jan. 2, causing his death.

Officer Bisnette, 39, was off-duty and alone in his Ford Explorer when the SUV went off the road and struck a utility pole on Route 31 as he was headed toward Paxton at 2:30 a.m.

“A likely cause of this crash was Bisnette's operation (of the SUV) at an excessive speed for road and weather conditions resulting in his inability to safely negotiate an ‘S' type curvature in the roadway,” Trooper Anne Renzi, of the state police collision reconstruction team, wrote in her report a few days after the crash.

In the report, which was requested by the Telegram & Gazette, Trooper Renzi noted that the road was covered in snow, and that continuing snowfall made it difficult to estimate the speed of the vehicle or whether the off-duty officer used his brakes.

However, the trooper also noted that the force of the crash was great enough to sever the utility pole.

Significant portions of the 11-page report were blacked out, or redacted.

Jane O'Brien, an associate chief legal counsel for the state police, wrote in an accompanying letter to the T&G that the information was withheld because of a provision in the state public records law that exempts from disclosure material that violates the privacy of an individual.

In her report, Trooper Renzi added that it is unknown whether any other factors contributed to the crash, including medical issues, driver distraction, drowsiness or any other kind of impairment.

State public safety officials have said toxicology tests were performed but were not needed to determine the cause of Officer Bisnette's death. The results of such tests are protected by medical privacy laws.

An external examination performed by a state medical examiner found that the officer died from asphyxiation and loss of oxygen to the brain, possibly as a result of being strangled by his seat belt as he hung upside down in the SUV.