Personal Problems at OPD



Photo By Norma Lopez Molina

Apparently there is so little crime in The City Beautiful that the Orlando Police Department can expend 12 officers, six unmarked vehicles and nine bullets to apprehend a man suspected of . . . credit-card theft.

Yes, you read that right—credit-card theft.

We must be living in a regular Pleasantville to have such a small-time crime receive such big-time attention from the people sworn to protect and serve. I feel so much safer knowing that should my American Express card be stolen the folks over at OPD will be on it like Barney Fife on an illegally parked station wagon.

I’m not serious, of course. OPD wouldn’t go gangbusters after a lowly credit-card thief who lifted my AmEx, if only for the simple reason that I don’t have a family member on the force.

But in the aforementioned raid, which occurred in November 2010, Sgt. Rhonda Huckelbery assembled a team to go after a man she suspected of stealing her husband’s credit cards. Thank goodness her hubby’s Xbox wasn’t stolen!

For obvious reasons, many agencies prohibit officers from getting involved in cases in which family members are victims. Not OPD. In fact, we likely never would have heard about Huckelbery’s raid had it not ended in a fiasco. And so Orlando’s new police chief, Paul Rooney, has an even bigger problem to sweep under the rug—police misconduct.

An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement turned up a surveillance video that contradicted the official story of what went down in a Target parking lot on East Colonial Drive. The cops said the suspect’s van rammed their vehicles, forcing them to defend themselves. But the video showed that an unmarked police truck plowed into the van from behind, forcing it into unmarked police vehicles rushing onto the scene.

The suspect, Rogelio Cortes, was hit by four of the nine shots fired by two officers, but he survived. Cortes was charged with attempting to flee or elude police officers. 

Meanwhile, the state attorney’s office took a pass on seeking charges against any of the officers. No surprise there, because Lawson Lamar is an old softie when it comes to police abusing their authority.

Rooney has a chance to show he’s tough on cops who lie and improperly use deadly force, but from the sounds of his reaction to the FDLE report, I don’t see that happening.

“I take full responsibility for the shooting,” he said in late August. “If training or policy change needs to be implemented, then it’s on me.”
Wow, he might change a policy. Or, God forbid, train his cops to do, what, shoot better?

OPD says it is investigating the officers’ actions. But I suspect that when all is said and done about this matter, little will be said and even less done to restore the public’s trust in the department.

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