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St. Petersburg police officer loses two weeks' pay for three crashes

ST. PETERSBURG — Officer Adrian Owens was suspended for a day after getting into an accident with his marked police cruiser in May 2008. Another accident in February earned him a week without pay.

But then he crashed his police car a third time just 16 days later.

That's why the St. Petersburg Police Department handed down one of its toughest penalties on Thursday, suspending the officer for two weeks without pay.

The department also called him a "chronic offender" of department rules for getting into three crashes in 10 months. And he was also disciplined for a nontraffic-related incident that took place in January.

Owens, 31, joined the force in 2006. When he returns to duty he'll have to undergo remedial training with a driving instructor. That was the ruling of Chief Chuck Harmon and a chain of command board.

"A two-week suspension without pay is a serious punishment," said police spokesman Bill Proffitt. "He could be looking at dismissal if he doesn't make some adjustments in his work."

Owens' first crash was May 14, 2008, and his second crash was Feb. 19. He got into his third crash on March 7, according to a police report. He was driving north on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street when he heard a report of a "person down."

The officer tried a U-turn onto the southbound lanes, the report said. He was turning from the curb lane into the median lane when his cruiser struck the front right of another vehicle.

An accident investigator later determined that the officer was at fault because he didn't check to see if the median lane was empty before turning his police car around. There were no injuries, but damage to both vehicles was put at $4,290.

According to state records, Owens has received nine traffic citations since 2000 for speeding, improper passing, careless driving and failing to wear his seat belt.

Owens also got in trouble with the Police Department in January. While conducting an investigation, Owens said he found drugs sitting out in the open but did not take them into custody, a spokesman said.

Later, the officer realized his mistake and told a supervisor he had erred.

Owens could not be reached for comment. But the board that disciplined him Thursday said in its report that the officer "took responsibility for his actions," and "was honest and forthright throughout the investigation."

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

Review board calls shooting justified

An undercover St. Petersburg detective who opened fire on suspects who had just shot another officer was justified in his actions, Chief Chuck Harmon and a shooting review board ruled Thursday. The robbery and shootout took place Jan. 26 outside the Exxon gas station at 2061 First Ave. N. The wounded detective was trying to arrest a suspect when he was ambushed and shot four times by two other suspects. The other officer returned fire, and though the suspects were not hit, all three were arrested. The injured officer is still recovering. None of the officers was named because they work undercover.

St. Petersburg police officer loses two weeks' pay for three crashes 06/04/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 4, 2009 10:46pm]
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