Saturday, August 18, 2007

Weekly: Orlando Citizens Police Review Board is 'a toothless body that the police can ignore whenever they want'

Published 8/16/2007 in Orlando Weekly

Commentary: Posting of this article is not an endorsement of the idea that the Orlando Citizens Police Review Board should be ignored. Citizen advocates should still monitor its activities and those who have been abused by police should still avail themselves of it: both to establish an official record of their complaints and to show how ineffective and weighted in favor of the police is the Citizens Police Review Board process.


Say you’re the Orlando Police Department, and the Citizens Police Review Board that oversees your internal affairs investigations asks you to reopen a case because you half-assed it the first time. What do you do?

Not a goddamn thing. In December, the CPRB asked OPD to re-examine allegations against James Carlies and James McGriff, two undercover agents accused of misbehaving during the course of an investigation into Cleo’s adult nightclub in 2004 (see “Operation Overexposed,” Sept. 22, 2005). Two strippers ultimately arrested in the sting, Celeste Hall and Olivia Foster, filed a complaint. As proof, they offered the results of lie detector tests they’d passed.

But OPD said those tests were administered incorrectly and discarded the results. So the women made themselves available for another lie detector test conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The FDLE agreed to perform the test, but only if OPD asked for it. OPD never did. The complaints against the two cops were dismissed (see “Something’s fishy,” Nov. 9, 2006). Even after the CPRB kicked the case back to the department, nothing happened.

On July 19, Cleo’s attorney Steve Mason wrote OPD a letter asking, basically, if the cops ever planned on reinvestigating. The answer came on Aug. 2 via a letter from assistant city attorney Shannon Gridley Hetz: No.

“The Citizens Police Review Board is only advisory to the chief of police,” Hetz wrote. In other words, it’s a toothless body that the police can ignore whenever they want. How’s that for accountability?

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