Five Tampa Police officers in hot water

5:40 AM, Feb 17, 2006   |    comments
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By: Sara Dorsey Tampa, Florida — Thirteen pages of documents sum up why female officer Martha Gearity asked for a transfer out of her all male street anti-crime last August, even though it's one of the most elite teams to work for at the Tampa Police Department. Laura McElroy, Tampa Police Department "To be involved in this type of behavior the behavior is outrageous it's highly unacceptable it's unbecoming a police officer and it's a sad day at TPD that we're even standing her discussing it." The behavior according to the investigation includes constant flagellation, belching and excessive sexual joking by male officers. It says quote "officer Gearity said that they talked about anal sex, they watched pornographic movies at work, talked about their sex lives in the open, made reference to her menstruation, joked about having homosexual relations with one another in graphic detail and took pictures of a penis with a camera phone." Those involved include Officer Gregory Cotner, Officer David Duncan, Officer Ryan Sigler, and their superiors Corporal David Watt and Sergeant Gene Strickland. Laura McElroy, Tampa Police Department "We immediately disbanded the members of this squad and then launched our own investigation and then we learned about the sexually charged and offensive environment of the squad." In the documents Officer Gearity recalled Officer Cotner simulating as if he was grabbing her behind. Gearity goes on to say, "Officer Sigler was simulating that, like he was grinding me like having sex." The sexual harassment isn't the end of it. Both the Corporal and Sergeant were found guilty of carrying and firing unauthorized weapons on duty and violating the responsibility of supervisors for letting a traffic stop escalate out of control. It was also found the team did not have jurisdiction when it went into Hillsborough County to arrest Eugene Betts in that case Sergeant Strickland was struck in the ankle by cross fire. Laura McElroy, Tampa Police Department "The discipline that these officers will face will certainly reflect the disappointment that this department feels." The Sergeant has been moved to desk duty and the three officers and corporal are on patrol under strict supervision while the disciplinary process moves forward. Tampa police say an advisory board will recommend to the chief what actions should be taken, but the chief has the ultimate say. All the men face anything from suspension to demotion to termination.

Sara Dorsey, Tampa Bay's 10 News

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