FORT LAUDERDALE — The Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office has been tapped to investigate a nine-month-old incident involving possible illegal tape-recording in the Fort Lauderdale police department.
The probe also centers on allegations that some officers allowed a dog to lap out of food belonging to other officers, with the episode caught on an audio recording. FLPD internal affairs investigators first reviewed the allegations and, based on their findings, the matter was sent to the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
However, because of a possible conflict of interest, Gov. Charlie Crist was asked to reassign the investigation and he sent it to Palm Beach County.
The investigation centers on the FLPD’s Criminal Investigation Division and the actions of two female officers and a female police aide, as well as Det. Colin Cowderoy, who filed the complaint.
One of the officers, Sgt. Kim Logan-Hancock, worked in the Patrol Division and was visiting the CID unit on the night of the alleged incident.
The other officer, Det. Kerrie Hagerty, along with police aide Stacy Jenkins, worked the evening shift in the CID unit, where, it is being alleged, a dog was allowed to lap out of food belonging to other officers which was then placed back on the shelves.
Tim Donnelly, director of the Special Investigation Unit at the Broward State Attorney’s Office, confirmed that Crist was asked to assign the investigation to another jurisdiction, said Ron Ishoy, spokesman for the office.
Asked about the specific nature of the conflict of interest, Ishoy said, “one of the people involved there [Fort Lauderdale police] is related to someone here.”
He didn’t provide any names.
But a South Florida Times investigation found the possible conflict involves Shari Elisabeth Tate-Belt, a prosecutor in the Broward State Attorney’s Office, who is known as Shari Tate around the courthouse. She is married to David Lee Jenkins, a former detective with the Fort Lauderdale police department and the father-in-law of Stacy Jenkins, the police aide who allegedly secretly taped recorded her co-workers.
According to sources, during questioning by Fort Lauderdale police internal affairs investigators, Stacy Jenkins allegedly told them she consulted with other people prior to tape recordings her co-workers. It is not clear why she did so.
Florida law prohibits tape recording people without their knowledge or prior consent.
Cowderoy, who works the day shift in the CID, triggered the probe when he filed a complaint on Feb. 9 with the police department’s Internal Affairs Division. He did so after he took his malfunctioning, voice-activated audio recorder to a shop for repairs.
Once there, Cowderoy discovered that his audio recorder had captured his colleagues on the CID’s evening shift laughing in the office while they allowed a dog to eat from food left in the kitchenette area. It is unclear also how his recorder caught the incident.
His recording reportedly details officers discussing closing back the container holding the dog-tainted food and putting it back in place for their unsuspecting colleagues to eat later.
According to sources, Cowderoy’s recordings also captured a night shift police aide, believed to be Stacy Jenkins detailing how a supervisor allegedly instructed her to secretly record the CID day shift officers. That aide also explained how she carried out the instructions and discussed the location where she left the hidden audio device each night.
After listening to Cowderoy’s recording, Capt. Rick Maglione, director of the Internal Affairs Division, consulted with the Broward State Attorney’s Office. Police internal affairs investigators then went to the CID office located inside the police department’s headquarters at 1300 West Broward Blvd.
There, they found the police aide’s recording device in the spot detailed in Cowderoy’s recordings and seized it. Since then, other recordings have been discovered on Cowderoy’s device.
Cowderoy went on sick leave shortly after filing his complaint in February, apparently unrelated to the dog-food tampering caper, and is yet to return to work. However, internal affairs investigators have requested follow-up interviews with him after locating additional recordings he allegedly made.
The work schedules and shifts of the officers involved have been changed to separate them but none have been suspended or placed on administrative leave.
Requests for comments were made to police department employees involved through their union and police spokesman Sgt. Frank Sousa but department prohibits employees from discussing matters of ongoing investigations.
Elgin Jones can be reached at EJones@SFLTimes.com.
Pictured: Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe