Mascotte city manager says he stands by police chief

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. —

A Mascotte police officer said he suspected his private conversations were being recorded inside his patrol car.

Controversy has been swirling around the tiny town of Mascotte, and city manager Jim Gleason said he has had enough.

"I am frustrated, I am annoyed, because to a certain degree, it's easy for people to make allegations," Gleason said.

The allegations started flying earlier this year when former cops filed federal lawsuits against Chief Rolando Banasco and the city, accusing him of discrimination.

Sgt. David Grice filed a complaint with the city alleging that he found a microphone in his patrol car.

Eyewitness News asked him what he meant, because all the officers know there are recording devices in their cars.

"It's what is being recorded and maintained is what we don't know. There is times the system is still running, and we are still driving around after a call," Grice said.

"If you suspected the chief of spying, why not go to FDLE (the Florida Department of Law Enforcement) or Lake County?" asked Channel 9's Tim Barber.

"As a crime, I would do that if I had proof positive," Grice said.

Gleason said he launched an independent investigation, but he is still standing by the chief and his department.