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Florida officers punished for drinking beer during Hurricane Irma

NORTH BAY VILLAGE, Fla. -- As Hurricane Irma approached Florida last year, not everyone was scrambling to get ready. An internal affairs report shows some members of the "Landfall Team" in North Bay Village remained at city hall, drinking beer and talking football.

According to the records obtained by the Miami Herald, unit shift commander Lt. James McCready gave officers permission to drink, putting a cooler on a conference room table and then blocking a surveillance camera with a plastic cup.

The party continued on Sept. 9 as calls came in and the weather worsened. Officer Walter Sajdak walked in on them after midnight and later reported it to a superior officer.

"I was upset about lives being put at risk, lives being put in danger," Sajdak said, according to the report. "Lieutenant McCready, who was in charge of our Landfall Team, had jeopardized the lives of the officers that were working and the residents by drinking alcohol."

Six officers admitted to violating a policy of drinking on the job. They received letters of reprimand and forfeited accrued time.

Irma hit the Florida Keys on Sept. 10 as a Category 4 storm, destroying 1,200 homes and damaging 3,000 there.

The storm was a Category 3 when it reached the mainland near Naples. It weakened but did significant damage as far north as Jacksonville.

The storm was blamed for the deaths of 14 residents at a nursing home in South Florida. Twelve of those deaths were ruled homicides.

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