Does the Tampa DUI Squad Scandal Mean Cases Will Be Dropped?
In the last week of July, the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office released a report confirming that an attorney’s
These scandals have prompted the department to reassign the sergeant from his leadership position in the DUI squad, and to decentralize that squad to change its culture. It has also set up a six-person panel — including a retired judge and Florida’s current statewide prosecutor — to review all open DUI cases involving the sergeant or the other officer involved in the mid-trial arrest. That panel will also pull 50 random DUI cases and review those, as well. The goal is not only to find evidence of police misconduct but, Tampa’s police chief hopes, to restore public confidence in the department.
Floridians can only hope the department’s internal review will find any irregularities right away, because a separate FBI civil rights investigation will also be scrutinizing the department’s practices.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Tampa police told reporters last Friday that a memo was to be sent out to all officers reminding them of the department’s integrity policy. Under that policy, any officer who receives a tip from a friend or family member should pass the tip along to a superior instead of acting on it him- or herself.
The former DUI squad leader may face disciplinary action, but the department has apparently decided to wait on the outcome of the FBI investigation before imposing any.
So, if you’ve recently been arrested for DUI in Tampa, is it likely the charges will be dropped? Probably not. While the panel’s review of other potentially-tainted cases is a positive development, no one has suggested that a large number of the cases will be dropped. If you believe your arrest was motivated by a factor other than evidence of your intoxication, however, you should contact an attorney about your concerns.
- Tampa Bay Times, “Tampa police chief launches investigation of DUI unit; mayor weighs in,” Jessica Vander Velde and Sue Carlton, Aug. 6, 2013
- The Tampa Tribune, “Tampa police affirm integrity rule after DUI controversy,” Elaine Silvestrini, Aug. 10, 2013