TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa police fired three of their own Thursday after a lengthy internal affairs investigation involving 10 officers
More than 300 cases were reviewed, and it isn’t over yet.
“To have to stand here before you and have to explain this is just an embarrassment for me,” said Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan.
Dugan announced the results of a seven-month internal affairs investigation. Three TPD officers were fired. Seven more were disciplined.
The officers terminated Thursday morning were Mark Landry, John Laretta and Algenis Maceo.
An eleventh officer who was investigated was cleared of wrongdoing.
"To have to stand here and explain this to you is an embarrassment for me," Dugan said. "I could not be more disappointed."
“They have embarrassed our police department, they have placed the community’s trust that they have in us in jeopardy,” he said. “They have tarnished our brand, and they betrayed the oath that they swore to uphold.”
The violations include trashing small amounts of drugs, usually misdemeanor amounts of marijuana, rather than making arrests. They allegedly failed to file reports in cases the officers considered too small to worry about. And Dugan says they repeatedly turned off their body cameras.
When you do that, said the chief, “It seems like you’ve got something to hide. And there were so many instances that they did this.”
There’s no evidence, said Dougan, that any of the officers did anything criminal. He says they didn’t keep the drugs to plant on someone else, sell them, or use them. The officers were all tested for drugs, and those tests came back negative.
“It’s all policy violations,” said the chief, “But the problem you have with that is that they lost their credibility.”
Because of that credibility gap, several criminal cases the three cops were involved with are falling apart.
Dugan said there were already four criminal defendants who’d seen the charges against them dropped, a total of five felonies.
“Yes, and there is the potential that there’s going to be more,” he said.
It doesn’t end there.
As a result of the findings, TPD has launched another investigation. This time they are looking into the officers’ supervisors to see if there was adequate oversight.
“Cops are human. I don’t expect them to be perfect,” said Dugan. “But I expect them to have character, and I expect them to have integrity. And I feel this was lacking in these three and they are not worthy of wearing our badge anymore.”
Dugan praised the vast majority of officers within TPD who he said serve the community with honesty and integrity.
Information regarding the internal affairs investigation was also shared with Tampa’s new Mayor, Jane Castor, who once served as Tampa’s police chief.
The officers disciplined have the right to appeal the decision through their union representatives.
In September 2018, a citizen complained to the department that Landry and Laretta threatened him with physical violence. The internal affairs investigation found the two officers had violated policy by turning off their body cameras during that confrontation and others.
Back in March, Tampa police said they reviewed 349 cases and found at least 29 violations among the 10 officers investigated.
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