Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg police officer suspended for disabling cruiser's GPS

ST. PETERSBURG — Police Chief Chuck Harmon has suspended an officer for two days after the department determined he violated policy by unplugging the Global Positioning System in his patrol car.

Officer Chris Dixon also will receive an employee notice in his file, according to a memo released Thursday.

"If officers do something they shouldn't be doing, we're going to hold them accountable," Harmon said Thursday. "We're not going to be afraid to look at our own."

The revelation about GPS disabling came about after Dixon, 26, was accused of being involved in a hit-and-run accident outside Tropicana Field in 2009.

A Riverview man told authorities an officer rear-ended him after a Rays game. After a six-week investigation, Dixon was cited for careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

In December, a judge found Dixon not guilty on both charges. But during the trial, Dixon admitted disabling his GPS system on different occasions.

Others testified that it's well known that officers sometimes disable the devices if they don't want headquarters to be able to track their speed or location. All it takes is undocking the laptop, they said.

On Thursday, a board convened by Harmon did not sustain any allegations related to the accident, but determined Dixon did engage in conduct unbecoming an officer and broke department rules about computer use.

Harmon said he feels the two-day suspension is adequate, calling it a moderate punishment.

Dixon, who joined the department in 2008, did not have any previous discipline in his file.

Harmon noted that Dixon maintained his innocence about the accident but freely admitted that he had undocked his computer in the past.

Department policy requires officers to have it on whenever an officer if driving.

In his memo, Harmon said the tracking system is for officers' safety and efficiency.

He issued a warning to those who might be disabling their GPS.

"Employees, if they are engaging in this practice, will be subject to disciplinary action," Harmon wrote. "Additionally, officers who have assigned take home vehicles and intentionally undock their in-car computer will also incur the loss of take-home vehicle privileges for a minimum of 18 months."

Dixon, who was reassigned to a desk job after the accident, will get a chance to return to patrol duty soon.

"He's been off the street almost a year and a half," Harmon said. "Once he completes the suspension he'll be put back on patrol."

Kameel Stanley can be reached at or (727) 893-8643.

St. Petersburg police officer suspended for disabling cruiser's GPS 04/14/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2011 9:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Sen. Bill Nelson ready to campaign on GOP failure to fix Obamacare

    State Roundup

    For years, Sen. Bill Nelson has faced a steady barrage of partisan attacks over the Affordable Care Act, but as he begins the 2018 re-election campaign, the Democrat stands to benefit from a flipped script:

     U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson talks to local residents about the Affordable Care Act  at the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse in Tampa, Florida on July 3. )OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times)
  2. Tiger Bay panel: End permanent revocation of voting rights for convicted felons


    TAMPA – A panel of elected officials and advocates including Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren argued in a forum Friday that Florida should end its practice of permanently revoking the voting rights of people convicted of felonies.

    Rep. Sean Shaw, D- Tampa, on the floor of the Florida House.[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  3. Temple Terrace Citizen of Year skips his awards banquet in protest of Confederate event


    TEMPLE TERRACE — Travis Malloy was supposed to show up to the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club on Thursday to pick up his Citizen of the Year award at the Chamber of Commerce banquet.

    Instead, Malloy stayed away in protest.

    Travis Malloy declined to collect his Citizen of the Year award at the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club on Thursday to protest the club's decision to host a Southern Heritage event with a War on the South program Sept. 2. Malloy was honored for starting community gardens and a farmers market. [Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce]
  4. Editorial: Making tax increases harder would sentence Florida to mediocrity


    Florida has one of the lowest state tax burdens in the nation, a long list of unmet needs and a Republican-controlled state government that treats any talk of a tax increase as heresy. Yet Gov. Rick Scott wants voters to approve a constitutional amendment to make it even harder for the Legislature to raise taxes. That's …

    Gov. Rick Scott wants voters to approve a constitutional amendment to make it even harder for the Legislature to raise taxes. That’s election-year pandering, not leadership.
  5. What happens if you look at the eclipse without glasses? Want a hole in your vision?


    It's the burning question of the week.

    The solar eclipse Monday will be quite the Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson moment for Americans to share. The idea is to walk away without frying your eyeballs.

    Colton Hammer tries out his new eclipse glasses he just bought from the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City on Wednesday in preparation for the eclipse on Monday. [Scott G Winterton | Deseret News via AP]