DUI review team issues list of recommendations for the Tampa Police Department

TAMPA, Fla. - With her entire panel of DUI reviewers by her side, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor announced the results of a months-long review of TPD's DUI unit on Thursday.

"It's a new day for the DUI unit," Castor said. "The findings showed  that we have a very good, very effective DUI unit, but there were ways we could fine-tune our processes to make it even better."
 
In the 11-page report, TPD received mostly good marks from the DUI review team made up of Judge Barbara Fleischer, statewide prosecutor Nick Cox, Asst. Inspector General for FDLE Chief Dean Register,  TPD Captain Eric Ward, TPD Sgt. Doug Groves, and TPD Asst. Chief John Bennett.

The team did outline, however, several recommendations for the department. Those recommendations included:

- More complete and thorough police reports

- Additional field sobriety tests (in the past, officers tended to rely on three standardized tests. Now officers will also use the following tests when applicable: finger to nose, the Romberg alphabet and the counting test)

- Expanded video recordings (officers will now be required to use video recording equipment in all phases of the investigation)

- An in-car camera system for the DUI supervisor

- An updated urine testing policy

- Results of the BAC on the Criminal Arrest Affidavit, even if a driver refuses to take the test

- An updated DUI Investigation Guide

- Regular communication with the State Attorney's Office

'We found the practices of the officers to be good. We did not find any red flags or make any determinations there were any illegal practices going on," said Nick Cox.

The agency's DUI unit has been under heavy scrutiny following the alleged DUI setup arrest one year ago of attorney Phil Campbell. Over the summer, Campbell's attorney John Fitzgibbons wrote a highly critical letter calling out the DUI unit's credibility.

Fitzgibbons held his own news conference Thursday afternoon in response to the review's findings.
"I was a little disappointed on a couple things," he said.

While Fitzgibbons said he was happy his client's arrest had become a "gamechanger," he said he was disappointed in the scope of the unit's review. He wished the team would have addressed police officers getting "tips" from friends.   
 
"If a citizen has a relationship with a police officer and has the ability to call that police officer up on the phone and cause that police officer to come after another citizen, that's a very very scary and dangerous circumstance," said Fitzgibbons. "Mr. Campbell feels very strongly that this shouldn't happen to anyone else. Nobody should be setup."

According to Chief Castor, the panel discovered "no red flags" when they reviewed the open cases of the two officers that were involved in Campbell's arrest: Sgt. Ray Fernandez and Officer Tim McGinnis.

The recommendations issued by the panel, Castor said, are already in the works.

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