Why did a Marco Island police officer on leave seek info on officers sleeping on duty?
This is a six-month review of the most-read crime stories in Collier County on naplesnews.com from March 2019 to August 2019. Naples Daily News
A public records request made by a Marco Island police officer currently on paid leave may shed light as to one the reasons he is under investigation.
In the days after the Marco Island Police Department announced he was placed on leave, officer John Derrig sought disciplinary documents of other officers that included multiple incidents of sleeping on duty.
Documents provided to the Naples Daily News through its own records request showed three incidents within the last few months. One of those incidents occurred two months ago and included Sgt. Kyle Kreis taking a photo of officer Edward Carey sleeping with his sunglasses on before 4 a.m.
Capt. Dave Baer announced an investigation into Derrig on Sept. 16 but provided few details as to its scope, given the state laws for open investigations.
"The subject matter, reason(s) and action(s) taken by the agency associated with this investigation is, by law and procedure, confidential and exempt from public records laws, until the case is closed," Baer wrote. "The Department is actively investigating and will release more detailed information as soon as legally possible."
The date of Baer's announcement does not correspond to the date Derrig was initially placed under investigation, which began several months ago.
The Officers' Bill of Rights establishes that discipline can only be administered within 180 days of the start of the investigation.
Derrig declined to comment, citing the open internal affairs investigation.
Bob Bates, a former director of Fort Lauderdale's Office of Professional Standards and an attorney who has represented multiple Marco officers under investigation, said it was not uncommon to research how discipline has previously been doled out for similar allegations.
Bates said it was in the department and officers' best interest for even-handed, predictable discipline.
"The department gains deterrent effect," Bates said. "The officers benefit because they gain the knowledge of what the impact will be to their careers."
Speaking generally, Bates said the department would have to observe an officer in the act to sustain an allegation. Officers may appear inactive to find a place to complete paperwork or to observe driving violations, Bates said.
Within the documents Derrig sought was a notice of counseling issued to Carey on Aug. 21 by Kreis.
In the document, Kreis wrote that Carey was found sleeping on duty at 3:47 a.m. at the San Marco Church despite his status being indicated as going on foot patrol.
"While on his foot patrol, Officer Carey's vehicle was observed backed into a parking space with his vehicle lights off," Kreis wrote. "A light was shined on Officer Carey and he could be observed sleeping in his patrol vehicle (#185). His seat was reclined back, sunglasses were over his eyes and left arm over his head. Officer Carey never work up to the light and was unaware of his surroundings."
A photo and GPS data from Carey's vehicle obtained by the Daily News through a records request confirms Kreis' account. Carey's vehicle did not move for nearly 40 minutes according to the GPS data.
The GPS data from both the vehicles of Kreis and Carey raises additional questions.
After the photo was taken, the vehicle Kreis was driving is shown driving away. Carey's vehicle did not move for more than 15 minutes after the incident was documented.
This was not the first time Carey was suspected of sleeping on duty.
On June 23, police responded to a burglary call on Tallwood Avenue, but Carey did not arrive on the scene to assist.
A counseling form showed Carey had indicated he heard a call for a suspicious person on Hartley Street but did not respond because it was out of his zone. After being corrected about the street, Carey denied sleeping on duty.
As part of the discipline for the most recent incident, Carey was reassigned to a new vehicle that would not allow the seat to recline.
Another officer, Allan Reyes, was caught by his supervisor sleeping near the Jolly Bridge on June 19.
Lt. Clayton Smith drove by Reyes' vehicle after responding to a call from Marriott security for 50 people acting disorderly on the beach.
Smith documented shining a light into Reyes' eyes without any effect before knocking on his truck.
"I told him while he was sleeping, he missed a large disturbance at the Marriott," Smith wrote. "Officer Reyes attempted to tell me that we did not have a run to the Marriott. He attempted to tell me that we only had a call to Tallwood."
Derrig has had multiple run-ins with different Marco Island police administrations over his career, which led to being terminated on two occasions.
Those decisions were overturned through arbitration. An arbiter ruled in the most recent case that the department had a vendetta against him and terminated him in a retaliatory fashion.
“It was unfortunate that the Police Department Administration had a certain animus toward Officer Derrig,” arbitrator Frank Squillace wrote. “Thus, the Union’s claim that Officer Derrig was retaliated against is meritorious. The written documents and witnesses’ testimonies show that after Office Derrig returned to work in January 2012, he was treated in an arbitrary and capricious manner.”
Derrig has also clashed with the city and police administration recently after accusing Baer of placing malicious documents in his personnel file.
An inquiry by the Daily News over Derrig's claims about the addition and removal of documents from personnel files resulted in an investigation being launched.
"Over my 13 years of my employment, there (were) several uninvestigated and or slanderous documents placed into my personnel file," Derrig wrote in an email to human resources manager Leslie Sanford. "These documents were never investigated per Florida Statutes, or the dispositions were never included because there was no merit to the complaint. These documents were placed inside my file to support the malicious agenda of the prior administration. These documents are insufficient on its face and should be removed."