TAMPA — An internal investigation found misconduct by a Tampa police sergeant after members of his squad spent $421 for lap dances and liquor without a clear explanation for why.
The police Professional Standards Bureau presented the findings Tuesday at the monthly meeting of the department’s Citizen’s Review Board, 11 citizens members who review police disciplinary cases.
The investigation, begun in April 2020, found Sgt. Daniel Rhodes, 45, failed to comply with departmental policies and with supervisor responsibilities.
Rhodes allowed his squad to go to the Gold Club, 6222 E Adamo Dr., to search for information about a shooting, according to a report of the investigation. But the officers gave conflicting reasons about why they were there and about the operation’s title, the report said.
The investigation confirmed that there was a shooting and that a dancer at the club may have had ties to the case. But the title of the operation made no reference to the shooting, causing confusion.
Officers spent about three hours at the club and spent $421.34 on a “cover charge, drinks for themselves, drinks for the dancers, drinks for the dancer’s friends, shots for the bartender, a pack of cigarettes, cover charge for the ‘lap dance area,’ and one lap dance each,” according to the report.
The officers made no arrests and gathered no new information from the dancer, the report said.
In a separate incident during August 2019, Rhodes gave an officer in his squad $300 of department money to buy custom gold teeth, the report said. Rhodes was supposed to close out the draw of money within 90 days but left it open about five months, the report said.
The extended time period indicated there was no need for the money, the report said.
Finally, Rhodes was found to have allowed an officer to write operational plans without proper supervision, a potentially dangerous situation.
“While he has the authority to delegate tasks to subordinates, he cannot delegate responsibility,” the investigation said.
Rhodes was issued a one-day suspension and removed from his squad. He now works with a day-shift patrol squad.
Rhodes was suspended once before during his 22 years with the Tampa Police Department, in 2013, for nudging a suspect with the barrel of his gun to get his attention. The move is considered an excessive use of force.
One member of the Citizens Review Board said Rhodes deserved more extensive punishment.
“I felt the suspension could have been a little bit longer,” said Dr. Carolyn Collins. “They could have sent a stronger message … for any others who may fall prey to delegating responsibilities.”
Neither Rhodes nor his representatives could be reached for comment Wednesday.
In an email to the Tampa Bay Times, the Police Department said, “Discovering misconduct of any of our officers, is always disheartening and unacceptable and the department will not tolerate this behavior.”