TAMPA — For 24 years, Scott Guffey served as a cop in Tampa. On patrol, he reunited a mother with her baby. As a robbery detective, he earned praise for good arrests. Glowing remarks fill his annual reviews.
It all fell apart when internal investigators caught the Tampa police corporal having sex in the back seat of his unmarked car during his shift.
"He was immediately relieved of duty," Chief Jane Castor said at a Monday news conference. "This kind of behavior is not tolerated in our organization."
Guffey, 46, is married, but the woman in the car, in her mid 20s, was not his wife of 15 years, Castor said.
He resigned in lieu of being fired. He will receive a pension of $4,645 a month.
The department launched its investigation after police received an anonymous call on Dec. 18 that an officer had been observed getting out of the back seat of a car with a woman at Al Lopez Park. The caller told police she thought the two had sex.
Suspecting the officer the caller had seen might be Guffey, internal affairs investigators followed his car to the park Wednesday.
It was midday, and Guffey was supposed to be at work in the Ybor City area.
After pulling into the park, Guffey placed a sun shade across his windshield and got into the back seat with a woman, according to an internal affairs disposition letter released Monday.
The woman was not involved in police matters, and the sex was consensual, Castor said.
Because the car's windows were tinted, Guffey, who earned about $83,434 a year, won't face criminal charges, Castor said. Lewd and lascivious charges would be levied only if their activities were visible, said police spokeswoman Laura McElroy.
"Unless you went up to the car and put your face up against it, you couldn't tell there was sexual activity going on," McElroy said.
Castor said Guffey was surprised when caught and chose to resign that day. He expressed remorse, McElroy said.
A woman who answered the door at the couple's Land O'Lakes home Monday afternoon said the Guffeys weren't home and wouldn't be interested in talking to a reporter.
Guffey joined the department in 1986. He worked as a patrol officer, undercover officer and moved into the role of department spokesman in the early 1990s. He was promoted to detective in 2005.
A year ago, Guffey transferred to the rapid offender control squad, an undercover squad that targets an array of street crime. He supervised five people.
Al Lopez Park, in West Tampa, is outside his district. Castor said his absence from his own area could have put other officers at risk.
The internal affairs investigation found him in violation of four department regulations: Guffey was not paying attention to his duties, wasn't fulfilling his supervisory responsibilities, wasn't upholding the department's standard of conduct and had sexual activity while on duty, the disposition states.
Guffey will receive pension payments for the rest of his life, with annual cost-of-living adjustments. Even if he had been fired, he still would have received his pension, Castor said.
Florida statute outlines the offenses for which public officers and employees would forfeit their retirement benefits. They all involve the commission of felonies that defraud the public, such as bribery.
"Having sex in the back of a police car is not on the list," McElroy said.
Guffey has been the subject of internal investigations several times but for small issues, Castor said. His record shows he has been disciplined for missing a few court hearings and getting into two minor car crashes.
In 2006, the department determined Guffey had acted appropriately when he told another officer that former Tampa City Council candidate Terry Neal was HIV-positive.
Guffey included that information in a police report, which is public record, after Neal was arrested for ignoring orders to stop talking during the public comment portion of a 2004 City Council meeting.
Neal has said the medical information is wrong.
Times news researcher John Martin and staff writer Lisa Buie contributed to this report. Reach Jessica Vander Velde at email@example.com or (813) 226-3433.