Chief Jane Castor Appoints Team to Review DUI Cases

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Mayor Buckhorn Statement on Tampa Police Department’s DUI Unit

Mayor Bob Buckhorn released the following statement in regards to the Tampa Police Department’s DUI unit.

“Over the last week, Chief Castor has decentralized the DUI unit and assembled a team of trusted professionals from both inside and outside of the department to review Fernandez and McGinnis’ cases as well as random sampling of other DUI cases. These steps can assure the public that the Tampa Police Department handles DUI cases appropriately and that the department will continue to serve our community with the integrity and professionalism that it is recognized for.

“The actions of any one individual should not reflect on the entire department. The fate of the officer involved in the incident will be determined at a later date, but the larger issue of how the DUI unit operates is being dealt with today. Rest assured that if the investigation proves incompetence or a gross violation of the officer involved, actions will be swift and appropriate. ”

The recent DUI arrest has called the credibility of the DUI unit and the department into question. As a result, the Tampa Police Department is taking every necessary step to restore public confidence.

Chief Jane Castor has created a DUI Review Team to evaluate past arrests. The team will begin by reviewing all open cases made by Sergeant Ray Fernandez and Officer Tim McGinnis. Then it will take a random sample of DUI cases to review the elements of every arrest.

Six people will serve on the team- three outside experts and three internal officers with DUI experience.

Chief John Bennett will oversee this team that will be comprised of:

Retired Circuit Court Judge Barbara Fleischer - served 23 years on the bench and ruled on countless criminal cases The Attorney General's State-Wide Prosecutor Nick Cox - also served as a local prosecutor and former Regional Director of DCF.
Chief Dean Register with FDLE's Inspector General's Office Former DUI supervisors Sergeant Doug Groves and Lieutenant Eric Ward

We are taking this step for 3 reasons.
1) Drunk drivers are a threat to everyone. We owe it to the victims' families to make sure our DUI arrests are valid.

2) We also owe it to our community to ensure the integrity of these cases.

3) And finally, we owe it to our hard working DUI officers who are dedicated to stopping the threat of impaired drivers. They need to have the public support behind them as they are out there every night making arrests to stop drunk drivers, reduce crashes and ultimately save lives.
The team's findings will be presented to the State Attorney's Office for review.

Laura McElroy