During Hurricane Irma Cops Ignored 911 Calls and Got Drunk Instead

An internal affairs investigation has revealed that six on-duty police officers who were part of an emergency ‘Landfall Team’ were indoors having a ‘hurricane party’ and boozing it up when 2016’s Hurricane Irma touched down in Florida.

According to the report, obtained by the Miami Herald, on the evening of September 9, 2017, North Bay Village, Florida, police officers were hunkered down in city hall, drinking Corona Light instead of responding to calls.

All day, the department had been deluged by calls about medical emergencies, alarms going off and other issues, as residents prepared for what was expected to a direct hit from the hurricane.

According to the report, that night, they were told by their commanding officer that they could stop going out to respond to calls and, instead, drink, watch football and do ‘other things guys do when they get together.’

The internal affairs report said that the ‘hurricane party’ started at 11.23pm, when shift supervisor Lt. James McCready put a cooler of beer on the City Hall conference room table. The town’s public works supervisor, Tim Smith, was said to be seated at the table at the time.

McCready was said to have then put a plastic cup on top of the surveillance camera in an effort to hide the ‘hurricane party.’ They were then joined by the other officers.

Shortly after midnight that night, Officer Walter Sajdak — who reported the hurricane party to a superior after the fact — told investigators that he had gone to city hall after refueling the emergency vehicles. That was when he stumbled upon the group sitting at the table with open beers.

Sajdak said that McCready told him to ‘have a beer,’ which he declined because the officer code of conduct prohibits drinking while on duty. At around 1.15am, Sajdak said that McCready told the other officers to dispose of any evidence of the beer.

In surveillance footage, obtained by NBC 6, a man whose face has been blurred can be seen carrying what appears to be a white cooler down a hallway and covering up the surveillance camera.

The Landfill Team apparently reported that the drinking had occurred while the six officers were in a stand down due to unsafe conditions outside.

The team reported that the stand down started at 11.45pm on September 9 and ended at 7am on September 8, as ‘official police operations ceased due to conditions being unsafe and officer fatigue.’

However, it appears that McCready had been the one who decided to issue that order, as official orders to stand down were not issued until September 8, when Irma made landfall.

The six officers named as having been drinking while on Landfall Team duty were McCready, Sgt. James McVay, Detective Manuel Casais and officers Ismael Chevalier, Norlan Benitez and Ethan Cherasia.

All six later admitted that they violated the department’s no drinking on duty policy, according to the report. However, the report also noted that the drinking had not impeded their emergency response efforts. Investigators were not able to turn up any proof that the officers were extremely impaired as a result of their drinking.

The officers all received letters of reprimand and forfeited accrued time, according to the report. As further punishment, then-police chief Carlos Noriega apparently recommended that the officers’ salaries for those forfeited hours be given to FEMA.

McCready was also temporarily put on administrative leave and removed from the Landfall Team for at least 12 months after taking responsibility for making ‘an error in judgement.’

It appears that Smith had not been reprimanded at the time, due to city administration turnover in early 2018.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5926443/On-duty-cops-drank-Corona-Light-watched-football-hurricane-party-hurricane.html