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St. Petersburg police suspend two officers and victim assistant for policy violations

ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg Police Department disciplined three of its employees Thursday: a victim assistance specialist who borrowed $400 from a 92-year-old robbery victim, a police officer who went on a cruise instead of testifying in a criminal trial and an officer who complained about not receiving a restaurant discount.

Victim Assistance Specialist Colleen Slater and Officers Brian Gainer and Bobby Johnson each received unpaid suspensions and other sanctions after a chain-of-command board, which included police Chief Chuck Harmon, found them responsible for violations of department rules.

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Slater, a civilian employee who helped crime victims, was disciplined for an October incident in which she borrowed $400 from Adeline King, who met Slater in 2009 after she was a robbery victim, a department memo states.

King's granddaughter, Christine King, who lives in California, contacted Slater in September and told her she was concerned that her grandmother was showing signs of dementia and needed help with financial matters, the memo stated.

Slater met with Mrs. King in October and confided that she was having financial difficulties, then asked to borrow $400 from King, police said. On Oct. 24, Slater and King drove in a city-owned car to King's bank, where King asked to withdraw $400.

A bank employee later testified that she felt uncomfortable with the situation, police said. Slater, in a rude tone, asked if there was "a problem," the memo states.

Christine King called the bank the next day, concerned that Slater had taken advantage of her grandmother, police said. On Oct. 27, police began internal and criminal investigations and removed Slater from her duties.

Slater repaid the money. A medical examination found King did not have disorders affecting her mental state, police said. King told police that she and Slater spent two to three hours together after visiting the bank, driving around the city, visiting the beach and having lunch.

Slater admitted to taking the money as a loan to cover bills, but claimed she did not take King's mental state into consideration at the time, police said.

The State Attorney's Office declined to prosecute Slater in part because King and her granddaughter did not want to go to court, police said.

Slater received a five-day suspension and a demotion.

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Gainer was expected to testify in a trial Oct. 18 but told a prosecutor the day before that he wouldn't be there because he was going on a cruise.

When the prosecutor warned Gainer that the case could be dismissed if he did not appear, Gainer told him to "just take one for the team," police said.

Gainer's supervisor told him not to leave for vacation. Gainer left anyway.

Police said the trial was delayed. Police did not release what charges were being pursued in the trial.

The board suspended Gainer for two days.

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Johnson received a one-day suspension after the board found he demanded an officer discount Dec. 20 during a visit to a restaurant. Johnson received a bill for $25.45 after dining with a guest.

He asked a server why he had not received a discount, which the restaurant normally gives to officers. The server applied a 25 percent discount to the bill, which Johnson paid.

Johnson later mentioned the incident to another officer, who told his supervisor.

The board suspended Johnson for one day and ordered him to reimburse the restaurant, which was not named in the memo.

St. Petersburg police suspend two officers and victim assistant for policy violations 03/08/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 8, 2012 11:17pm]

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