TAMPA - Police officers put their lives on the line every day to protect the public. But when one of their own is accused of misconduct again and again, what happens to him?
Shane Voutsinas recently retired from the Largo Police Department, the day before he was facing an interview for his third internal investigation.
In June of 2010, he was suspended for two days for lying about where he was during a day he called in sick.
Last August, he was given a written reprimand for an incident involving a suspect.
Joan Vida is the mother of the suspect, Derek French, and she claims Voutsinas roughed up her son. She had called police because her son was drunk and throwing things. According to the internal investigation report, the suspect cursed at Officer Voutsinas. Voutsinas allegedly told his fellow officers, “You might want to stay outside,” and went inside the apartment to confront the suspect.
Voutsinas claims French resisted arrest, but the charges against French were dropped. Joan Vida tells a different story.
“He grabbed my son very rough, put his hands behind his back, threw him up against the wall and then the floor, and he broke his nose,” Vida said.
In interviews with internal affairs investigators, two other officers on the scene referred to Voutsinas’ actions and the arrest as “improper” and “excessive.” He was given a written reprimand for not properly reporting the details of the incident in his report.
In May of this year, Voutsinas faced new accusations.
He was accused of having sexual contact in his squad car while on duty. The Largo Police Department received a tip about the alleged misconduct from the husband of the woman Voutsinas was allegedly meeting.
The woman told investigators she met Voutsinas six or seven times in his squad car in parking lots in secluded locations, including behind a shopping center. She stated that she performed oral sex during some of these meetings.
“It just can’t be tolerated. There’s no excuse for that whatsoever. This is very bad, not only for the trust of the community, because you need to know your police officers are out there and working, not having sex in their police car,” said Chuck Drago, a police consultant with Drago Professional Consultants and former police chief.
However, Voutsinas resigned the day before he was set to be interviewed by investigators, according to an internal affairs report. Because he resigned, he was never interviewed. Largo's police chief tells ABC Action News the agency did not drop the investigation and did forward the information to FDLE. At the time of this publication, however, he is still certified as a police officer by the state.
“So now this officer’s out there, the next department he applies to looks at his record, he seems clean, and he hired him and the officer starts all over again,” Drago said.
At this time, Shane Voutsinas is still certified to be a police officer, free to apply to any department in Florida.
Drago believes FDLE's Criminal Justice Standards & Training Commission should remove his certification.
“I don’t want him to be a police officer. I think he should have his certification pulled,” Drago said.
A spokesman for FDLE says there is now a disciplinary case against Voutsinas, though the specifics of the allegations are not being released. Voutsinas did not return calls from ABC Action News requesting comment.
The Largo Police Department tells ABC Action News they are satisfied with the results of their internal investigations.
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