FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (November 3, 2019) – Theeagle.com writes that a police officer is facing possible criminal charges after allegedly leaking information to the news media. These types of charges are rare as police do not typically choose to file charges against fellow officers.
The allegations are surrounding a list of informants names that the suspect is believed to have released to the South Florida Sun Sentinel in 2014. Police had used the confidential informants included on the list for numerous drug investigations. The timing matches a Sun Sentinel investigation into the use of police informants to lure individuals into the city to purchase drugs. After the deal was done, the police would then seize the purchaser’s money and in many cases, their vehicle. The result for the Department was often large payouts for officers who worked overtime, and payouts for the informants as well.
While leaks are not that uncommon, this particular leak is getting more attention because, according to a representative from the Sunrise Police Department, the illegal copying of the informant list put the personal safety of every informant and every detective in the Vice, Intelligence and Narcotics unit at significant risk.
In most leak instances, a leak is seen as a breach of trust. Since the state passed a law in 2003, making the disclosure of such confidential information a third-degree felony, not a single officer in Broward has faced such charges. Only a few such prosecutions exist across the state. An officer convicted of such a crime will be facing a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
There are reports of two cases involving officers using the information they were privy to in order to warn family or friends that they were being investigated of crimes. Both of those cases were eventually dropped. Another officer faced a related misdemeanor charge after leaking footage of a mass shooting that took place in 2017 at the Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The video was improperly recorded from surveillance footage and ultimately ended up on TMZ.
As to the leak to the Sun Sentinel, the warrants are public records, and the officer is on administrative leave. The documents first came out when the accused officer’s ex-wife gave the list to the Department after saying she found it in a safe the couple kept.
The investigation has found that the officer may have improperly disclosed or used private information in other instances as well. The accused has been with the Department for eighteen years.
A separate investigation into the same officer took place after the officer was suspected of using police data to look up information about his ex, his ex’s son, and some of his colleagues. The officer admitted to conducting such searches but said he did so for training purposes. The searches were a misuse of police databases. The officer was given a forty-hour suspension in response to that incident, but no criminality was alleged in relation to the searches.