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Officer likely to face inquiry

An Inverness police officer has been involved in two on-duty car accidents this year and appears to be the subject of an internal investigation, according to records and interviews.

Patrol officer Alfred L. Hills, an eight-year veteran with the Inverness force, backed his squad car into another vehicle Jan. 7 at Citrus Memorial Hospital, the records said.

A 3-month-old girl and 3-year-old boy were inside the other car at the time. Damage to both vehicles was minor, and the children were not injured.

The report indicated Hills backed up improperly, but it also said the vehicle he struck was parked improperly.

On May 29, Hills ran into a ditch and hit a fence while chasing three suspects behind the Inverness Regional Shopping Center, the records said.

The fence was damaged, and a tow truck was needed to hoist the patrol car out of the ditch, the records said. Damage to vehicle and property exceeded $700.

Inverness Police Chief Massey Cook said he could not confirm that the department was investigating Hills' two wrecks.

Cook has made identical statements when other officers have been under investigation. He said state law does not allow him to acknowledge the existence of any investigation.

Hills did not return a telephone message left at his office Thursday or a message left at his home Friday.

Since joining the Inverness force in December 1985, Hills has amassed an impressive record. His work evaluations all reflect average or above-average performance; his personnel file contains six letters of appreciation and one commendation. There is one reprimand for failing to show up for a scheduled meeting.

Hills also received high praise from supervisors at the Dunnellon Police Department, where he worked before switching to Inverness.

However, minor traffic accidents seem to have troubled him since he joined the force.

In 1986, Hills parked his car on State Road 44 E to investigate a vehicle that had been abandoned. Hills' patrol car apparently slipped out of gear and started rolling forward, according to a police report. Hills jumped into his car but was unable to stop it before it hit the rear of the abandoned vehicle.

Two years later, a Citrus County Jail officer lowered a sally port door onto Hills' patrol car, a record said.

Hills was not disciplined for either mishap.