A Homestead police rookie has been suspended after allegedly pulling a gun issued by her department on her boyfriend at a Super Bowl party.
Jenna Maldonado, 28, a reserve officer with the police department, is the daughter of former Homestead Mayor Lynda Bell, who was defeated in the 2009 elections.
“It is an IA [Homestead Police Internal Affairs] investigation that is ongoing and she is on suspension from the Reserve Officer Program,” Homestead Police Department spokesman Capt. Ed Bowe said. “The Miami-Dade Police Department’s Domestic Violence Division is conducting the criminal investigation, and will decide on any charges, or referral to the State Attorney.”
Bowe said that due to the status of the investigation, the department is not commenting on or releasing any specifics about the case.
Yet according to several sources close to the investigation who requested anonymity, the incident happened on Sunday, Feb. 7 during a Super Bowl party in the unincorporated Redlands area of Miami-Dade County. Maldonado, who was off duty, and a person identified only as “Steve,’’ got into a heated argument, sources said.
Sources describe “Steve” as Maldonado’s boyfriend. The disagreement escalated to the point at which Maldonado allegedly threatened her boyfriend with her department-issued service weapon, sources said.
Efforts to reach Maldonado through the Police Department and her Facebook page have been unsuccessful.
Though sources say over a dozen people reportedly witnessed the incident, Miami-Dade Police, who patrol the area, were never called. The next day, the boyfriend contacted Maldonado’s employer, the Homestead Police Department, and reported the incident.
A number of other people at the party who witnessed the incident have provided recorded statements to Homestead police, according to sources. In addition to her suspension, Maldonado has been ordered to turn in her service weapon.
“I can’t comment on any of that information,” Bowe said when asked about the details.
Bowe did, however, confirm that Homestead police contacted the Miami-Dade Police Department because the incident happened in Miami-Dade’s jurisdiction.
Miami-Dade police have not released any details about the incident. Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office spokesman Ed Griffith said his agency has yet to get any information about the case. But, he said, his office is aware of the incident.
“I have been informed that the matter is still under investigation by the Homestead Police Department & has not come to us at this point,” Griffith said in an email to the South Florida Times on Friday, Feb. 12.
Maldonado has been with the department for less than a year, but Bowe said he did not immediately have her exact date of employment.
Homestead’s Reserve Officer Program hires new recruits who must successfully complete training at the police academy. Upon graduation, they are paid $1 per year, with no benefits. They work part-time hours to obtain on-the-job training and experience.
When permanent openings become available on the force, reserve officers are placed into a pool of eligible applicants for the positions.
Bowe said the department allows officers to choose from a variety of approved weapons to carry while on duty, and he was not sure exactly which model had been issued to Maldonado.
“It was our gun that was used,” Bowe acknowledged. “Any use of a service revolver, if it is not used in the justifiable duty as a police officer, is unacceptable.”
Pictured above is Homestead Police Officer Jenna Maldonado, in a photo obtained from her Facebook page.