Tampa PD unveils DUI Task Force findings after "demoralizing" scandal

8:05 PM, Jan 23, 2014   |    comments
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Video: DUI Task Force findings after 'demoralizing' scandal

Sgt. Ray Fernandez testifies during the MJ vs. Bubba the Love Sponge trial



Tampa, FL -- It was exactly one year ago today that attorney Phil Campbell, involved at the time in a high-profile shock jock case, was busted for DUI. The were charges later dropped amid findings that Campbell had been set-up.

Since then, Tampa Police fired Sgt. Ray Fernandez, the supervisor who was at the center of that DUI stop.

RELATED: 2 Tampa Police officers fired, 1 arrested

On Thursday, the department released the findings of a task force formed in the wake of that controversial arrest.

MORE: New documents in Campbell DUI case detail lies

"I was very alarmed," said Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, referring back to that time.

But today, Castor was "excited" and clearly relieved by the findings of a 3-½ month-long investigation reviewing 70 DUI arrests. The six-member panel says it found no further evidence of such conduct.

"We did not find any red flags or make any determinations that there were any illegal practices going on," said panel member Nick Cox.

Judge Barbara Fleischer, another panel member, agreed.

"There was not one shred of evidence there has been any selective or targeted enforcement," she said.

The panel did, however, list nine areas where the department could improve its DUI policies. They include more forms of field sobriety and urine testing, increasing the use of video and filling out more thorough police reports.

Campbell's defense attorney, John Fitzgibbons, called the report encouraging, but lacking in some areas. He said it did not address previously closed cases or discourage police action based on tips from friends which was the case in Campbell's arrest.

"It seems pretty clear to everyone now that the Tampa Police Department's DUI unit practices and procedures were totally broken," said Fitzgibbons, "And our hope is that this will change things so that there won't be any more set-up arrests of citizens."

About 88% of the cases reviewed already met "acceptable standards," according to the report and by implementing the recommendations, Chief Castor hopes it would ensure future DUI cases are handled better.

Another recommendation from the panel called for improved communication between the police department and the State Attorney's Office. They now plan to have a bi-monthly meeting beginning next month.

As for the four open cases related to now-former officer Fernandez, the panel said they found no wrongdoing, but that those cases had been dropped out of an abundance of caution.

SEE ALSO: 10 Investigates learn DUI sergeant lied to chief


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