BROOKSVILLE — A school resource officer at Nature Coast Technical High has been reprimanded and transferred to patrol duty for failing to properly respond to three separate incidents last month.
Deputy Rick Ruiz violated the Hernando County Sheriff's Office code of conduct, Lt. Harold J. Hutchinson Jr. wrote in the reprimand Tuesday.
"You left the public you serve in fear and doubt that you can successfully serve them in your current assignment," Hutchinson wrote.
According to the reprimand:
• Ruiz did not properly complete a probable cause affidavit to arrest a juvenile student for misdemeanor drug possession on Jan. 27. The document had to be corrected by a sergeant to complete the arrest.
• On the same day, Ruiz failed to respond quickly to a disturbance that erupted between a student and his mother in the guidance office, despite efforts by school staffers to reach him on the radio and by phone. That placed "the staff in great fear during this incident," Hutchinson wrote.
When Ruiz notified his supervisor of the incident, he failed to have a clear understanding of the crime that took place and did not complete a proper investigation until prompted to do so by a sergeant.
• The next day, Ruiz failed to respond properly to a suspicious incident in "an unauthorized area" of the school campus, forcing school staffers to step in and take charge. One of the students fled. Ruiz did not fill out an incident report until prompted to do so by a supervisor.
"Your actions during these events has left the school staff at Nature Coast Technical High School with a lack of confidence in your abilities to function as their school resource officer," Hutchinson wrote.
"You have chosen a profession to serve the public. The job of a law enforcement officer is to serve and protect, and during these incidents you failed to do so."
Chief Mike Maurer said Ruiz has worked at the Sheriff's Office since 1990 and had not had "any other issues" at the agency during that time. His transfer to patrol duty took effect Tuesday.
"The school administration had lost confidence in Ruiz," Maurer said. "And when we looked into it, we found his job performance wasn't to our satisfaction."
Another deputy has been temporarily assigned to Nature Coast, Maurer said. The Sheriff's Office and school administrators will meet soon to interview candidates for the opening.