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Two Tarpon Springs officers are under investigation

TARPON SPRINGS — Two police officers were placed on administrative leave with pay Wednesday in unrelated incidents regarding possible improper relationships.

In the first case, Cpl. Michael Kazouris, 35, is the subject of a criminal investigation after the department received a complaint of "possible improper contact" with a 17-year-old Tarpon Springs High student.

And police officer John Spatz, 33, is the focus of a non-criminal investigation for an incident involving an 18-year-old woman who participated in the department's ride-along program. The program, designed to engage and educate the public, gives citizens a chance to ride in a patrol car with an officer.

Kazouris is the leader of the department's school resource officer team, which earlier this year won the Agency of the Year award by the Florida Association of School Resource Officers.

Hired by the department in October 2004, Kazouris' personnel file contains more than three dozen letters of commendation from various people, including school officials. His file does not contain any disciplinary action.

Kazouris, a 1991 Tarpon Springs High graduate, previously worked as a campus officer for Pinellas County Schools from 1997 to 2004. He earns $48,161 annually.

Spatz, who was hired in July 2002, has been stripped of his rank of corporal and has been removed from the department's Emergency Response Team and Honor Guard. Spatz, whose salary decreased with his demotion, now earns $49,606.

Spatz' personnel file also includes several letters of commendation, from department officials, local residents and other law enforcement agencies. Tarpon Springs Elks Lodge 1719 named Spatz Co-Officer of the Year in 2004 for his part in apprehending and disarming a man who had just robbed a Dollar Tree store at gunpoint.

Spatz' personnel record includes minor infractions, like failure to report a lost pager. But he was placed on administrative leave in February 2005 when the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office referred misdemeanor battery charges to the State Attorney's Office against Spatz and his ex-girlfriend, fellow Tarpon Springs police officer Michelle R. Hayward.

Spatz was reactivated two weeks later when the State Attorney's Office decided not to file charges against either party. Hayward committed suicide in March 2005.

Both Kazouris and Spatz have received satisfactory evaluations each year since they were hired, records show. Neither officer could be reached for comment Wednesday.

The investigations are ongoing, said the department's spokesperson, Lt. Barbara Templeton.

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4162.

Two Tarpon Springs officers are under investigation 11/12/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 7:09pm]
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