Officer reprimanded following accident
A Cape Coral police officer whose vehicle collided into and damaged four motorcycles had previously been involved in other “preventable” crashes.
On Feb. 21, Officer Saturnino Perez was responding to a call at the Dek Bar at 4704 S.E. 15th Ave. when his vehicle knocked down the motorcycles lined up outside the bar, causing more than $4,000 in damage. According to police, Perez failed to put the car in park before exiting it to help another officer.
A traffic investigation determined Perez was at fault and an administrative review was conducted. Connie Barron, spokeswoman for the Cape police, said Perez received a written reprimand and 30-day suspension of his take-home vehicle privileges following the completion of the review.
“Normally, the discipline is not quite so severe,” Barron said.
Because police officers are in vehicles all the time, sometimes trying to get to scenes very quickly, it is always possible that they are going to have some kind of traffic incident, she explained. Officials look at the facts of each one.
“It’s whether or not they’re preventable,” Barron said.
Officers are permitted one “preventable” crash for every two years. If an officer is involved in one crash and not involved in another during the two-year time frame, the slate is wiped clean, she explained.
“Basically, the clock starts ticking over,” Barron said.
But that was not the case with Perez.
“It’s not the first time he’s been involved in a preventable crash,” she said.
According to officials, Perez received a performance deficiency notice Sept. 9 for a “preventable” crash. Perez also received a written reprimand April 10, 2007, for another “preventable” crash, but it occurred outside the two years.
A vehicle instructor course and driver retraining were suggested disciplines, but Capt. Lisa Barnes recommended the written reprimand and suspension of vehicle privileges.
“Apparently, the captain did not believe the traffic retraining was enough,” Barron said.
Capt. Tim Rivers, who was acting deputy chief at the time, agreed.
As of Thursday, Perez had completed the suspension.
“Should it happen again, because he has been reprimanded and received a 30-day suspension (of vehicle use), next time he will be subject to suspension,” Barron said.
Perez did not receive a traffic citation for the incident.
According to a police report, each motorcycle sustained about $1,000 in damage, while the incident caused about $500 in damage to the police car.