Mount Dora police chief fired after investigation into racially insensitive comments

MOUNT DORA, Fla. — Racially insensitive comments, a push to issue frivolous citations and a lost puppy that was unreturned are just some of the reasons why Mount Dora's police chief is now out of a job.

John O'Grady was told his services were no longer needed after investigators found his department "fraught with distrust and (with) lack of respect."

City Manager Robin Hayes said she wants to give the department a month to heal so the deputy chief will continue to serve as acting chief until a new leader is named.

"We'll put a transition plan on how to correct this," Haynes said. "Resolve the issues with which we can (and) put in the policy in place to make sure this doesn't happen again.

An investigation into O'Grady's behavior began when an officer filed a complaint that the chief made a racially insensitive comment during a public event in April.

The comment didn't quite rise to the level of "unlawful harassment," but lawyers found an "overwhelming number of employees" believed the chief received pleasure from making employees uncomfortable.

Officials also said O'Grady took possession of a lost puppy in 2017 and gave it to friends. Officers said the chief refused to return the puppy when the owner came forward and asked an officer to issue a citation to the dog owners so that they would be pressured to release the puppy to the department, according to records.

Hayes said she only knew part of the story involving the dog, but did not know about the other changes, including the traffic stop mandate, which required some officers to stop citizens for nominal or petty offenses, such as going 5 mph over the speed limit.

O'Grady will keep his retirement package because he was already vested before being fired.

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