alvin-pollack-web.jpgphillip_merling_1.jpegBy ELGIN JONES
FORT LAUDERDALE — A Broward Sheriff’s commander who was disciplined for giving a ride home to a Miami Dolphins player after his release from jail on a aggravated battery charge has filed a racial discrimination complaint.

Commander Alvin Pollock, one of the longest-serving employees in the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) and one of the highest ranking blacks, filed the complaint with the federal Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission, his attorney Reginald Clyne said.An Internal Affairs investigation found that Pollock gave the ride to Dolphins defensive end Phillip Merling.

Jim Leljedal, BSO director of media relations, said the department had not received a copy of the complaint.

“I have not seen it and I’m not sure if we have received it or if such a complaint exists,” Leljedal said. “We have over 6,000 people and we don’t get calls about every letter sent to us. But it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss an EEOC complaint.”

In his complaint filed Feb. 13, Pollock states: “I worked Dolphin’s Security Detail for over 10 years. I was taken off detail, because I picked up a player and took him home from jail after a domestic dispute. This allegedly constituted preferential treatment. I was charged with having a passenger in BSO vehicle.” [sic]

The incident in question unfolded on May 27, 2010, after Merling was arrested at his Weston home and charged with domestic battery. He was accused of hitting and causing minor injuries to his girlfriend, who was two months pregnant at the time. Merling was arrested and taken to the Broward Main Jail in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

He faced up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000 but the charges were later dropped.Stuart Weinstein, director of Miami Dolphins security, contacted Pollock and several other BSO officials to inquire about Merling’s release status, according to the Internal Affairs report. When Pollock got off duty, he went to the Main Jail and asked Sgt. Luis Galindez about Merling’s release status.

He offered to pick Merling up and give him a ride to the Dolphins training camp in Davie, an area near where Pollock lives.Instead of leaving through the public lobby of the Broward Main Jail, where the media was waiting, Merling was escorted and released by Galindez in a restricted sally port area at the rear of the jail that is reserved for incoming inmates, that is partly shielded from public view and has no media access.

Pollock drove Merling to the Dolphins training facility and then to his Weston home.Pollock, who was hired in 1977 and had a clean record after 35 years on the job, was stripped of his badge, gun, and squad car and reassigned to car wash duty in the fleet division during the investigation.

After the investigation, he was removed as commander in charge of the Broward County Main Courthouse and reassigned as a road patrol watch commander on the midnight shift. He was also given a 15-day suspension without pay, prohibited from working any off-duty details and banned from working or volunteering for the Miami Dolphins.

Internal Affairs also found that Galindez failed to meet departmental standards and was given a written reprimand. The report accused Pollock of failing to use discretion, having a non-employee passenger in his patrol vehicle and failing to meet BSO standards.Clyne said Pollock has lost about $30,000 in potential earnings as a result of the disciplinary actions.

“The sheriff’s office should have no say in where he works while off duty at any company, especially a reputable organization such as the Dolphins, unless it harms his ability to perform his job or negatively impacts the department,” Clyne said. “This is unfair.”

Clyne said the disciplinary actions were demeaning to Pollock and he was punished more severely than white employees accused of similar or worse policy violations.

“When white employees are involved, there usually are no press conferences but, with blacks like Pollock, a press conference is held where the sheriff condemns them even before any investigations are completed,” Clyne said. “He was clearly mistreated and punished more severely than white employees.”

The complaint names Sheriff Al Lamberti as a responsible party but could be amended to include other officials within the 6000-employee department, Clyne said.

News reports of Merling’s arrest, the manner in which he was released and the ride home prompted the Internal Affairs investigation to determine whether Merling received special treatment not afforded to other detainees.

**Pictured above is BSO Commander Alvin Pollock, left, and Miami Dolphins defensive end Phillip Merling, right.