Windermere police officers suspended as investigation begins

Published On: Mar 20 2013 12:40:26 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 20 2013 06:13:55 PM EDT

Windermere police have put an two officers on paid administrative leave after allegations of "biased based profiling" surfaced, prompting an internal investigation.

WINDERMERE, Fla. -

Windermere police have put an two officers on paid administrative leave after allegations of "biased based profiling" surfaced, prompting an internal investigation, city officials said on Wednesday.

According to a release from the city of Windermere, Town Manager Robert Smith was notified of allegations involving officers Jason Darnell and Ryan Miller on the police department and called in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct the investigation.

According to records, Darnell and Miller are under investigation for "biased based profiling," defined as a "selection of an individual based solely on a trait common to a group for enforcement action. This includes but is not limited to: race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age, cultural group or any other identifiable group."

The alleged incidents occurred in June 2012 when Lee Massie was interim chief, according to records. Ted Brown took over as interim chief in October 2012 and reported the incidents to FDLE in November 2012.

Darnell was hired by Windermere police in 2008 after leaving the Altamonte Police Department. Miller was hired in 2011 and was a reserve officer prior to being hired.

Records show Darnell had a previous internal affairs case in 2011 that was sustained for courtesy and attitude and "transportation of persons in distress." Miller had internal affairs in 2011 and 2012 but both cases were unfounded because of insufficient evidence.

Both men have been placed on paid leave until the investigation is completed, officials said.

Windermere's police department has been under extreme scrutiny since 2011 when former police chief Daniel Saylor was arrested for covering up a child rape investigation involving his friend. Saylor pleaded no contest to misconduct and is now on probation.

"I think they can be confident in the fact that they have been through a lot over the last two years. I think this is a resilient community and I think they'll remain resilient," said town manager Robert Smith.

The department is now being reorganized by a brand new chief who was hired two months ago. Most of the 12-person department that worked under Saylor have either been fired or have resigned.

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