Police Chief Al Hogle placed Longboat Key police officer Pati Beardsley on administrative leave without pay Thursday, Sept. 17, one day after she was arrested for waving her department-issued handgun at a motorist who pulled into the driveway of her Sarasota home.
Hogle made the decision after the Southwest Florida Police Benevolent Association, which represents Beardsley, said they were willing to have her placed on unpaid leave.
Hogle and the police union determined the charges were serious enough to discontinue Beardsley’s pay immediately.
“This incident is truly disappointing and very frustrating,” Hogle said.
While Beardsley is on unpaid leave, the town will gather the facts of the case and conduct an internal affairs review if necessary. Hogle said the town must follow both the town’s personnel rules and regulations and Florida’s Policeman’s Bill of Rights before any decision on Beardsley’s future employment status can be made.
According to a Sarasota County police report, a woman pulled into Beardsley’s driveway at approximately 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 to turn around after picking up her two children and another child at nearby Southside Elementary School.
As soon as the woman pulled into the driveway, Beardsley came out of her home, holding her gun at her hip and approached the passenger door of the white Chevrolet Suburban in her driveway.
According to the woman driving the vehicle, Beardsley, 50, pointed the gun at the passenger side window while cursing, causing one of the children in the car to jump in the backseat and lay on the car’s floorboard.
A man and his daughter who were also leaving the school observed Beardsley wielding the gun as she approached the woman’s car.
Officers who responded to the area interviewed Beardsley, who claimed she had approached the vehicle while cursing and pointed her cell phone at the passengers.
The report also states that Beardsley called 911 10 minutes prior to the incident to complain about individuals parking on her street.
The Sarasota Police Department arrested Beardsley last Wednesday night and will complete their investigation before forwarding their findings to the State Attorney’s Office of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit for prosecution.
Hogle said he was “extremely disappointed” to hear the news.
Beardsley has been a police officer for the town for more than eight years.
On the record
Beardsley’s personnel file at the police station includes several letters of recommendation for a job well done, including two runner-up notices for Longboat Key Police Officer of the Year.
And, her personnel file at Town Hall includes more than 10 letters of praise from Longboat Key residents.
However, the police personnel file reveals seven different instances where citizens either issued written complaints against Beardsley or instances where her captain or chief of police reprimanded her for behavior issues.
In May 2007, Deputy Police Chief Martin Sharkey reported that Beardsley made disparaging comments to two citizens at the North Shore Road beach access. Beardsley, who was speaking with a man and a woman about removing their puppy from the beach, reportedly threatened to shoot the dog if it wasn’t removed and allegedly made a sexual comment based on what the man was wearing.
Beardsley admitted to her actions and was placed on administrative duty for a short time because of the incident.
Capt. Steve Mislyan also warned Beardsley in a memo dated May 12, 2004, in which she sarcastically asked a driver if he had drunk a gallon of wine prior to driving. Wrote Mislyan: “Your choice of words is again putting the police department in a bad light. This is sarcastic, antagonistic and confrontational.”
Mislyan reprimanded Beardsley again in December 2005 for pulling over a vehicle while driving to work in her personal car, at which time she became physical with the subject and removed items from the car.
And, in March 2008, a woman reported that Beardsley followed her from Bradenton Beach to her condominium on Longboat Key to tell her that she couldn’t pass a car by means of the bicycle lane. The woman’s husband wrote a letter to Hogle explaining that Beardsley’s “stalking of my wife was a serious case of abuse and not the act of a rational person.”
But not everything in Beardsley’s file was negative.
Several residents wrote letters or sent e-mails to Hogle, praising Beardsley for her professional and courteous service.
“Officer Beardsley did a lot of good out of here,” Hogle said.