Haines City Police supervisor demoted, two others written up after discrimination investigation

HAINES CITY, Fla. - A police sergeant in Haines City has learned he's getting demoted for derogatory statements he made to an officer.

Sgt. Herb Hernandez was on paid leave while the agency investigated a discrimination and harassment complaint against him.

Chief Richard Sloan released the findings of the investigation Wednesday afternoon.

The 450-page report says Officer Amelia Inoa reported that Hernandez repeatedly made derogatory statements to her, including one time when he said "you look like you [haven't had sex] in a year."

"He doesn't have any business talking to me like that. I don't know him," Inoa told investigators in a taped interview that ABC Action News obtained.

Inoa also said that Hernandez gave her boring assignments because she was a woman.

"She felt that she was being treated differently because she was a female by this particular supervisor," Sloan said.

In one case, Sloan said the Inoa was ordered to work the perimeter in a situation involving a gunman.

When it was all over, she asked why she wasn't on the entry team.

"I think what happened was the sergeant was being a wise acre and basically said 'it's because you're a girl,'" Sloan said.

After more than a month-long investigation, Sloan demoted Hernandez to road patrol along with a one-day suspension.

Two other supervisors, Cpl. Shawn Nobre and Lt. Jay Hopwood, were written up because they knew Inoa's troubles but did not report it, according to the report.

"I spoke to several people, trying to rectify the situation, trying to get help, and it seemed that every one that I went to tried to brush it off," Inoa told the investigator on the audio interview.

The report could not substantiate some of the claims of harassment and discrimination.

Sloan said the action he took is based on what they could substantiate and other comments Hernandez has made in the past.

"I've been a cop almost 40 years and I've worked with (women) ever since I've been here and certainly we are not going to tolerate that kind of conduct," he said.

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