Expert worries despite calls to increase police hiring standards, standards could go down as fewer look to enter profession

Video: Expert worries despite calls to up police hiring standards, standards could go down as fewer look to enter profession

A certified law enforcement expert worries that, despite calls to increase standards for hiring of police officers, standards could actually go down in some agencies as fewer people decide to enter the profession.

Channel 9 investigative reporter Karla Ray first exposed how often officers move from one agency to another after being investigated for misconduct. Since her February report, two of the officers featured for jumping from agency to agency have since lost their jobs amid investigations for more misconduct.

Edgewater police Officer Andrew Spurlock submitted a two-line resignation after an internal affairs investigation found he neglected his duty during two calls for service.

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One of those was a domestic violence investigation in which a woman claimed her husband threatened to kill her. The investigation indicates Spurlock did not document those details.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” former police Chief and law enforcement expert Chuck Drago said. “Past performance is certainly an indicator of future performance.”

Spurlock was suspended last year after being disciplined or warned 10 times over the course of two years with the Edgewater Police Department. Prior to that, he resigned from the Ormond Beach Police Department while under investigation for lying about missing evidence.

“If that person continues to misbehave, then obviously discipline isn’t working, and that pattern of behavior isn’t going to change. Those police officers shouldn’t be allowed to work anywhere, or other departments,” Drago said.

Spurlock rejoins the list of more than 2,000 officers who have resigned or retired while under investigation over the last six years. In that time, the state’s Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission has revoked around 400 certifications.

Many officers will go on to other agencies. That included former Seminole County Deputy Michael O’Connor, who was caught on camera in 2016 punching a handcuffed suspect in the face. 

After going through a diversion program on a battery charge, O’Connor was hired at the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office in the panhandle. However, he lost that job in May after being arrested on battery and fraud charges tied to another case of excessive force.

“There’s no question, the standards to hire a police officer have gradually gone down over the years,” Drago said. “You can become a police officer today with a criminal record, and you never could have 20, 30 years ago.”

Spurlock will keep his certification, meaning he is free to go to another agency.  O’Connor’s criminal case is set for a hearing next month.

Video: How police officers accused of bad behavior can get their jobs back after they resign