VALERIE KALFRIN and LENNY SAVINO
The Tampa Tribune
Capt. Jill Marks, 44, in charge of Internal Affairs since early 2001, has been under investigation since a former subordinate, Sgt. Borthland Murray, wrote to Mayor Pam Iorio in September criticizing Marks.
Murray, a 15-year police veteran, spent four years in Internal Affairs as a detective, investigating dozens of complaints against officers before a recent transfer to patrol.
He has accused Marks of eroding the integrity and honesty of the bureau through shoddy investigations and improper behavior.
``The major problem
appears to be with management choosing who will be and who will not be
investigated or disciplined according to whom they like or dislike,''
Among the allegations and
cases detailed in
* Marks gave Tampa Bay
Buccaneers tickets confiscated from a scalper to a secretary and the woman's
* A patrol officer was
allowed to keep his job after admitting he had sex with a 16-year-old girl he
met at an
* A sergeant failed to turn in a required report until a year after he and other officers used their batons and pepper spray against a man who resisted police. The man received cuts and bruises to his head and body.
* A corporal billed the
city for a day's worth of military leave to go to a doctor's appointment at a
veterans hospital that
Holder, who retired from the department in August after 30 years, 10 as chief, declined to comment on the allegations.
Department rules prohibit Marks from commenting on the case, which is being investigated by Capt. Joan Dias, head of the major crimes bureau.
Marks has been with the department since 1980. She is retiring in January after what many of her peers say has been a spotless career. Her personnel file shows no serious discipline.
``Captain Marks is a
consummate professional,'' said
Hogue declined to comment.
Iorio said, ``It's not fair to the investigators to have people go out and take their case to the media. ... That's not the way we can handle complaints.''
But retired Deputy Chief
John Bushell, reacting to
During the time he handled disciplinary actions, Bushell said, most of the time Internal Affairs ``conducted their investigations to support the desired outcome.''
Holder often influenced the findings, saying, `` `Well, that's just the way we want it,' '' said Bushell, who held the third highest rank in the department until he retired in 2003.
He worked as a detective in the narcotics and robbery units before Holder, a former Internal Affairs investigator, transferred him to that bureau.
Life in Internal Affairs
was an uneasy ``purgatory,''
He and Marks often butted
heads over her hands- on style and his habit of talking openly with Holder
without consulting her. In a September 2002 evaluation, Marks noted
Bucs Tickets And 2 PunishmentsThe most recent allegation in
Grossi said he was aware of the allegations but didn't want to comment.
Another case involves
Officer Mathew L. Graham, whom Internal Affairs investigated in 2001. Graham,
then 26, had sex with a 16-year-old girl he met that spring at Club Hedo, an
When Graham's name came
up during the Pinellas investigation, deputies alerted
In an Internal Affairs memo, then-Capt. George McNamara wrote there was ``ample evidence [Graham] should have known she was 16 years of age.''
The charge of which LeClaire was convicted, unlawful sex with certain minors, prohibits a person 24 years of age or older from having sex with a person 16- or 17-years-old. The law does not stipulate the offender must have known the age of the teenager. Additionally, the teenager's prior sexual conduct ``is not a relevant issue,'' the law states.
But State Attorney Mark Ober declined to prosecute Graham, who was found to have violated only the department's standard of conduct rule. Graham was suspended from work for 10 days, but was allowed instead to forfeit two weeks of vacation.
Graham is married now and
a patrol officer in District 1, which covers downtown and western
Pam Bondi, a spokeswoman for Ober's office, said the case against Graham did not proceed because of a delay in reporting the alleged offense, no medical evidence and no cooperation from the girl and her mother, who signed a waiver saying she did not want Graham prosecuted.
Internal Affairs Cases Low?Internal Affairs reports to the chief of police. The chief and command staff review each investigation, determine whether there is sufficient evidence to prove the allegations and administer discipline.
Bushell said even before Marks' tenure in the bureau, less-than-thorough investigations landed on his desk for dispositions.
From January 1999 to October 2003, Internal Affairs investigated 363 cases alleging violations by department members, records show. The bureau found wrongdoing in about a third of those cases and issued 18 terminations and 21 suspensions. Twenty-three people, some of whom also faced criminal charges, were allowed to retire or resign. The remainder received other discipline, such as written reprimands.
The number of cases
appears low to Lou Reiter, a
For an agency of Tampa's
size - about 960 sworn officers - that would mean an about 190 complaints a
Allegations of favoritism within police departments are common, Reiter said: ``There's a lot of politics in police work.''
For instance, people who back a particular chief may appear to be coasting in disciplinary matters.
``A lot of that is perception,'' Reiter said, ``but it may not in fact be real.
``The only way to really determine whether it's true is to look at some of the charges and the discipline.''
The police union, which represents officers during investigations, helps officers appeal discipline.
Kevin Durkin, president of the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association, said the union was ``at odds on a regular basis'' with Holder over disciplining officers.
Durkin was confident the
investigation of Marks would determine whether there was improper conduct. He
``Where were these complaints when he was in Internal Affairs for four years?'' Durkin asked.
A Use-Of-Force CaseOne 2002 case that rankled him involved a patrol sergeant's missing paperwork.
Sgt. Dale Pritcher, now
in the robbery unit, was one of several officers who arrested Edward LaRiviere,
then 37, on
Internal affairs began investigating after the family complained officers used excessive force.
The police department's
records division could not find Pritcher's report, which was required to be
filed by the end of the shift. He sent Internal Affairs detectives copies in June
2002. One of the reports was dated
``It's a typo,'' Pritcher said. He says the report, which predated the department's computerized report system, was misfiled.
``I wouldn't intend to cover up anything because it never works and you put your own career in jeopardy,'' he said.
Department policy on filing use of force reports is flexible, Pritcher said. After his encounter with LaRiviere toward the end of his shift, Pritcher said, he was covered with blood and needed to shower. He told his lieutenant what had happened.
Investigators absolved him of any wrongdoing, noting he must have written his report promptly because of its ``length and attention to detail.''
In contrast, in 2001, the
department suspended and demoted another officer because he submitted his
paperwork four hours after using physical force against a homeless man who was
trespassing outside the GTE Federal Credit Union on
The officer, Dwayne Johnson, a corporal at the time, appealed the discipline, which was reduced to a reprimand several months later.
Steve Thurman is another person
Department policy allows use of military leave for military obligations or scheduled functions. The policy is not clear about hospital visits.
Supervisors agreed, but
the case dragged on, until
Holder told the staff to
make the case ``disappear,''
Other officers were fired
for falsifying time cards,
Thurman said he never reimbursed the city because he used the military leave properly.
As the Marks
investigation winds down,
``If you truthfully ask me, I should've just left it alone,'' he said. ``Who am I to think I'm going to change anything?''
Reporter Valerie Kalfrin can be reached at (813) 259-7800. Lenny
Savino can be reached at (813) 259-7567.
This story can be found at: http://www.tampatrib.com/FloridaMetro/MGAQZG6MGOD.html