A Florida police chief was placed on administrative leave after allegedly belittling officers for raising concerns about coronavirus and pinning the covid-19-related death of a deputy sheriff on the fact that he was gay.
On April 7, officers in Davie, Florida—located in Broward County—asked Davie Police Chief Dale Engle about protocols to minimize their risk of contracting the virus following an outbreak at the Broward Country Sheriff’s Office. According to NBC,
In response to the officers’ concerns, Engle allegedly ordered them to stand in formation for inspection and berated them for raising the health issue, according to a complaint filed by the Florida State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FLFOP).
Engle then allegedly proceeded to blame the death of openly gay Broward County Deputy Sheriff Shannon Bennett on a “backstory,” claiming he died because he was a “homosexual who attended homosexual events.” Engle also allegedly implied Bennett, a 12-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, had “a serious underlying disease which aggravated the COVID-19 virus.”
A union complaint filed by the officers said that Engle emailed the staff shortly afterwards, saying is “intent was to provide as much information to personnel as possible.”
“If my comments were taken out of context, they were not intended to be derogatory,” he allegedly wrote.
Engle was placed on administrative leave Saturday “pending further review of allegations brought forward by the Fraternal Order of Police,” the town administrator, Richard J. Lemack, wrote in a statement, saying also that “the allegations will be investigated in accordance with the Town’s Equal Employment Opportunity compliance policy by outside counsel.”
Bennett, who died from covid-19 on April 3, was described by the Broward Sheriff’s Office as “an out and proud gay law enforcement deputy.” He was planning to marry his partner later this year.