PORT RICHEY, FLA. - Following a 10Investigates story into potential theft and destruction of public police records, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has opened an official investigation into the Port Richey Police Department.
The state's top law enforcement agency will be investigating how discipline records went missing from several officers' human resource files, and whether any crimes were committed. Police Chief Jerry DeCanio did not conduct a full investigation when 10Investigates brought the issues to his attention, instead suggesting it must have been the fault of the previous administration.
The 10Investigates story -- and subsequent fallout -- prompted the city council to request an FDLE investigation, even though several councilmembers lashed out at 10Investigates, even suggesting the report was "fake news."
While FDLE does not reveal details of ongoing investigations, a spokesperson suggested an update might be available later in August.
This marks the second time the Port Richey Police Department has been investigated by FDLE in three years; in 2014, a towing scandal rocked the city, with several officers disciplined for violating policy on receiving benefits from a private company.
However, FDLE took no action since there was no proof any state laws were violated.
10Investigates is also continuing to push for public records from city officials, several of whom appear to be violating Florida's open records laws by failing to respond to an early-June records request for emails and text messages related to the investigation.
However, among the records obtained by 10Investigates to-date, include councilman Terrence Rowe asking the city's attorney if any action could be taken against WTSP-TV for "false statements or accusations."
The emails also revealed that police administration reviewed -- and removed -- access by certain employees who access to secure areas of the police department, which shares a facility with city hall. However, the review only came after 10Investigates aired its story, several months after first bringing the potential unauthorized access issues to the attention of the police chief.
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