The Police Complaints Committee has reviewed its first cases, and in each one, it determined that the complaints against Sarasota police officers were unfounded.
The first case involved a black woman alleging police did not arrest another woman because she was white.
The black woman’s 11-year-old daughter accidentally ran her scooter into the white woman. The mother claimed the woman assaulted her daughter, and then when she told a police officer, he said, “It’s a shame that a white woman is assaulted and nobody came to help.”
After interviewing witnesses, the officer and all the people involved in the altercation, the police department determined that the only person who mentioned race was the mother, who asked police why they wouldn’t arrest a white woman.
Committee member Frank Brenner regretted that the police department had to spend time on what he viewed was a bogus complaint.
“What an extraordinary, colossal waste of resources,” he said.
Another case involved people arrested in a drug bust who claimed that when officers broke into their house, they caused an unnecessary amount of damage.
Investigators determined that the complaint was without warrant, and the complaints committee agreed.
However, two committee members got into a heated debate when discussing that case. Jerry Meketon suggested it would be a good idea for police to have someone with them during drug busts, such as that one, to inform the arrestees about the process of breaking into a home to search it.
“Yes, they are drug dealers,” he said. “But it would be nice to have someone there to explain what’s going on.”
Brenner, however, did not like that idea.
“When (drug dealers) are flushing drugs down the toilet, they know what is going on,” said Brenner. “What is there to explain?”
The third case also involved a drug bust, but the complainant was not the arrestee, it was his landlord.
The landlord argued that an undercover officer should have arrested his tenant where the drug sale took place, instead of waiting until the drug dealer got back to his rental home.
As it turned out, the landlord had been cited by the Nuisance Abatement Board for having too many drug arrests at his home; investigators believed he was looking for a way to eliminate that latest arrest.
And the fourth case under review concerned a dispute between a police officer and his ex-wife, who claimed that he was threatening and harassing her.
While most of the complaints against that officer were determined to be unfounded, he was guilty of violating some rules, such as leaving work for a few minutes without telling his supervisor.
The officer was given a letter of reprimand.
The committee members said they believed that was an appropriate response.
Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].