Broward County, Fla., sheriff’s deputy Frank Ortiz once was caught sleeping with a woman he had detained for psychiatric evaluation; he was suspended for three days and ordered to attend an ethics seminar, the Miami Herald recounts.
In his job evaluation 21 months later, no mention was made of the suspension, and his supervisor called him “a good candidate for the detective bureau.” Now Ortiz, 29, is suspended without pay after being charged with attempted sexual battery and false imprisonment. A 19-year-old girl says Ortiz molested her and took explicit photographs during an inquiry into a domestic disturbance.
The girl’s lawyer and family fault the Broward Sheriff’s Office for failing to look into Ortiz’s record when his North Lauderdale police department was merged into the Broward agency.
“You take over a police department, and you don’t check into their backgrounds?” said Ruth Grasso, the teen’s aunt. “Wouldn’t they want to background these people?”
The Broward Sheriff’s Office confirmed it does not do background checks on the officers it inherits through departmental mergers. “When we wholesale merge an entire agency with ours, we are taking the word of that department that everyone is in good standing within the department,” said Broward sheriff’s spokeswoman Cheryl Stopnick. “We don’t do new background checks or administer new polygraph tests or psychological checks. We are not going to treat them as if they are entering law enforcement for the first time.”