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Two Tampa police supervisors disciplined for failing to oversee officers

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, seen here at a May news conference announcing he disciplined officers for policy violations, announced Friday that their suspervisors face punishment, too. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, seen here at a May news conference announcing he disciplined officers for policy violations, announced Friday that their suspervisors face punishment, too. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Aug. 16, 2019

TAMPA — Two Tampa police supervisors who oversaw three officers fired for policy violations also have been disciplined.

An internal investigation found Sgt. Edwin Bodamer and Cpl. Eric Wilkinson violated policies related to their roles in enforcing department rules and policies, according to a Tampa Police Department news release issued Friday.

As a result, Bodamer was demoted to the rank of master police officer and took a pay cut of more than $20,000. Wilkinson received a letter of reprimand.

"From day one I have preached about accountability at all levels of the department," Police Chief Brian Dugan said in an interview. "You can't have one standard for the cops on the street and not think any of the supervisors or middle managers or even myself are not going to be held accountable."

RELATED: Three Tampa police officers fired for cutting corners with detentions, searches and drug disposal

The inquiry into the supervisors began earlier this year after three officers were terminated and seven others received lesser disciplinary action for a range of department policy violations including seizing small amounts of marijuana from people without writing reports or issuing citations.

Investigators also found that Officer John Laratta engaged in a pattern of turning off or manipulating his body-worn camera during interactions with the public, violating the department's camera policy 22 times.

Laratta and officers Mark Landry and Algenis Maceo were fired at the conclusion of the investigation. In announcing the firings in May, Dugan said questions about the officers' integrity would prevent them from testifying in court, resulting in the dismissal of several criminal cases.

RELATED STORY: Three Tampa officers were fired. Now 17 people will have their convictions overturned.

Investigators found no evidence that officers improperly arrested or detained suspects, violated their rights or used or sold the drugs they seized.

Wilkinson's reprimand letter notes that he was acting sergeant of Squad 305 from July to September 2018.

"During this time, you failed to observe clear and evident policy violations during your body worn camera checks," the letter says. "Moreover, you did not take appropriate corrective action."

Wilkinson noticed Laratta had turned off his camera on four separate occasions and wrote him a memo advising him not to do so, Dugan said.

"He took action but after four times, he should have taken it to a higher level," the chief said.

Bodamer, who joined the department in 1995, failed to do any footage checks at all, which is why he was demoted two steps, stripping him of any supervisory responsibility, Dugan said. With the demotion, Bodamer's salary was cut from $109,886 to $89,544.

Bodamer apologized and doesn't plan to fight his demotion, Dugan said.

"If they had been a little more vigilant in supervising and reviewing body camera footage, some of the incidents could have been prevented," he said.

Dugan has revised department policy to require supervisors to do more frequent checks of footage from officers' cameras. He also clarified the responsibility for writing reports.

Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

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