Police: Fla. officers didn't respond to emergency calls
(CBS News) Six police officers in Florida have been either fired or suspended after a two-year probe into allegations the officers were ignoring emergency dispatch calls. But hidden cameras were rolling.
Investigative reporter Jim Defede of our Miami station CBS-4, uncovered the scandal in one of the country's largest police departments.
With an armed robbery underway, an officer offers to take the call. But the Miami-Dade Police officer responding is nowhere near the crime. But another one is. It's Officer Dario Socarras, who ignores the call while kissing his girlfriend in a shopping mall parking lot.
In another video, shot by the department's Internal Affairs Unit and obtained by CBS News, Socarras is seen with two members of his squad. While enjoying their coffee, an infant is having a medical emergency.
The dispatcher who makes the call says, "Five-month-old not alert Kilos 3106 - 341."
"Kilos 3106" refers to Officer Socarras. A 341 is a high priority call. Paramedics and police are expected to go full out with lights and sirens when that code is issued. Officer Socarras answers the call, saying, "En route, advise when fire arrives."
But instead of rushing to the scene, he keeps drinking his coffee for 25 more minutes. Fortunately, paramedics were able to help the boy. If Socarras doesn't look worried in the video about what his supervisor might say about his daily activity report, it's probably because his supervisor Sgt. Jennifer Gonzalez was caught on video, too, with him at the time. In videos she was also seen going to Kohls, Target, and Lowes, instead of answering calls and supervising her officers in the field. And Gonzalez ignored calls too, during rendezvous with her boyfriend.
Recently retired Miami-Dade County Police Director Jim Loftus was in charge during the two-year investigation, which involved secretly taping the officers and even putting tracking devices on their cars.
Loftus said, "I still can't get my mind around that -- that someone would just chose not to go."
Investigators learned that the entire squad -- Gonzalez, Socarras, and four other officers -- ignored emergency calls and falsified activity reports. All told, they tallied 134 violations of departmental policies, involving 40 different incidents.
It was an act of betrayal, according to Loftus, against fellow officers and the people the squad swore to serve and protect.
"It really goes to the marrow of what we do," Loftus said. "And if you don't want to go to calls then don't sign up for the place and don't wear a badge. I don't want to be melodramatic about it, but that's a really minimum requirement: We tell you, you need to go. You go!"
In September, in his final act as director, Loftus called in Gonzalez, Socarro, and one other officer one at a time so he could fire them personally.
For Jim Defede's full report, watch the video in the player above.
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