Former Marco police officer, previously fired for sex on duty, under investigation after traffic stop
Kevin Hennings did not retire from the Marco Island Police Department. He was fired in September 2018 after an internal affairs investigation sustained allegations that he had sex on duty.
When he was pulled over Tuesday afternoon by a Collier County Sheriff's Office deputy, he produced a Marco Island Police Department retirement ID and badge.
Hennings has not been arrested, but his actions were reported to the police department and raise questions about whether he was impersonating a law enforcement officer and gave false identification to the deputy.
"No, we did not issue a MIPD retirement ID nor a MIPD retirement badge to Kevin Hennings," Capt. Dave Baer wrote in an email to the Naples Daily News. "The City has and does encourage the appropriate charges to be filed based on the circumstances."
An incident reported from Tuesday afternoon documents Hennings being pulled over for speeding on Tamiami Trail East, just west of Duda Road.
The deputy pulled Hennings over after radar determined he was traveling 80 mph in a 60 mph zone.
While many of the details were not disclosed due to the active investigation, the deputy placed a call to the Sheriff's Office's Criminal Investigations Division after initial contact with Hennings.
Hennings was permitted to leave the scene after a traffic citation was issued.
Video from the traffic stop and an unidentified item were then admitted into evidence.
Although Hennings is technically still a certified law enforcement officer and was previously employed by the Marco Island Police Department, it does not safeguard him from prosecution.
To prove a false impersonation charge, there are two key elements: pretending to be an officer and misleading someone to gain a benefit.
Craig Trocino, director of the University of Miami's Innocence Clinic, said the statute, which was originally ruled as unconstitutional due to being overly broad, does not make a distinction on whether impersonation must apply to active law enforcement.
"The retired badge is authorized by the department," he said. "My reading of the statute is that if he's used it with the intent to mislead and that purpose was to get out of a ticket, it may be a violation."
Under the police department's policies, Hennings would not have been eligible for a retirement badge or ID for multiple reasons.
For starters, he did not retire and he left the department in bad standing.
Hennings was one of the now-former police officers caught up in the department's sex on duty investigations.
The scandal originally focused on the actions of then-Sgt. James Inlow, who came into the department's cross-hairs in January 2018 after the father of a woman involved with him approached then-Police Chief Al Schettino. The father turned over digital evidence to Schettino showing that Inlow had been sexting and soliciting Adderall from his daughter.
Authorities uncovered a trove of evidence against more officers when they searched devices belonging to the woman, who was found to have been involved with all of them at different junctures.
Inlow and then-Sgt. Neil Giansanti resigned while under investigation. Those investigations ultimately found the allegations of sex on duty credible, resulting in multiple violations of police policy.
Although Hennings professed his innocence, the department placed him on paid leave until it concluded the there was not enough evidence to find the allegations credible and terminate him.
Unlike his peers, the state's Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission has yet to take any action against Hennings' law enforcement certificate.
The commission, which holds the power to impose discipline from probation up to revoking an officer’s certification for moral character violations. The charge of sex on duty carries a potential penalty of suspension up to the revocation of an officer's certification.
The reason it has not done so is because Hennings has appealed this termination through arbitration.
Hennings could not be immediately reached for comment.
Inlow's certification was revoked by the commission while Giansanti entered into a stipulation and settlement agreement that suspended him for two months and placed him on probation for an additional year.
The slap on the wrist handed down to Giansanti led the City Council to ask Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen to reconsider.
"It appears that you believe that this man is morally, ethically and judgmentally qualified to serve and protect the citizens of Florida," Brechnitz wrote in a letter referencing Giansanti's settlement. "This is preposterous and I am personally outraged as are the citizens of Marco Island. The notion that this man can carry a gun and a badge in another community in our great state boggles the mind."