FORT LAUDERDALE — State authorities are reviewing the case of Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) deputy Donald Prichard, who was disciplined for failing to respond to a 911 call involving dangerous pit bull dogs attacking a homeowner’s pet.
The review, which could also include why BSO’s action was not reported to the state, could lead to Sheriff Al Lamberti’s being sanctioned if it is determined that his agency intentionally withheld the case from state officials. It could also lead to Prichard’s being stripped of his state law enforcement certification.
A BSO Internal Affairs investigation found that Prichard, 28, failed to respond to the emergency dispatch about homeowner Derrick Miller’s pet dog being attacked by the pit bulls on Sept. 22, 2004. The homeowner’s pet was killed in the attack. The investigation found that Prichard was untruthful in his official logs, failed to take suitable action, and engaged in unbecoming conduct.
Prichard is currently Lamberti’s executive officer and his duties and responsibilities are similar to those of a chief of staff. He received a 10-day unpaid suspension for the dereliction of duty, which was finalized with an arbitrator’s Sept. 20, 2007, ruling that upheld the disciplinary action.
South Florida Times broke the story in its March 10 edition, which also reported that the disciplinary action had not been forwarded to state officials, as mandated by Florida law. BSO sources suggest the case was never sent to Tallahassee because of the time lapse between the date of the incident and the time when the case was closed.
Jim Leljedal, director of BSO’s media relations office, has declined comment and responded to questions about it in an e-mail by stating the 5,500-employee agency was “done with this.”
Nonetheless, some three years after the arbitrator’s ruling and five weeks following the South Florida Times story, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) officials contacted the Broward Sheriff Office and requested the case.
“I just spoke to Lt. [Robert] Greetham at BSO and they will be forwarding the IA investigation to us on Mr. Donald Prichard,” Glen Hopkins, Standards Bureau Chief of the FDLE’s Criminal Justice Professionalism Program, said in an e-mail to South Florida Times.
FDLE requires sustained discipline and findings of misconduct to be submitted within 45 days after final determinations are made. The responsibility for forwarding sustained cases does not rest with those who received the discipline. The head of an agency or department is held accountable for that function and could face action by FDLE if it is determined the agency intentionally withheld information.
“It is not entirely uncommon for us to have to reach out to an agency to obtain internal investigations,” Hopkins said. “We do have a charge of ‘willful failure of an agency head to comply with Section 943, F.S.’ but this charge is extremely difficult to prove due to our high burden of proof.”
Prichard now faces the possibility of no further action being taken, a reprimand, suspension, or revocation of his law enforcement certification.
BSO Media Relations Director Jim Leljedal initially said the Prichard incident occurred during the previous administration of Ken Jenne. However, the case was finalized during Lamberti’s tenure and it was never reported. The consequences for failing to abide by the reporting mandate range from a reprimand to revocation of the agency head’s law enforcement certification.
Prichard, who could not be reached for comment, was selected as Lamberti’s executive officer in 2010, three years after an arbitrator upheld his suspension.
BSO forwarded 15 sustained disciplinary cases to FDLE between April 1, 2010, and April 15, 2011, according to sources. “The number of cases varies each month, but 15 seems a little low for an entire year,” the sources said.
PICTURED: Donald Prichard, top, Sheriff Al Lamberti, bottom