Changes made to Tampa Police DUI squad - WFLA News Channel 8

Changes made to Tampa Police DUI squad

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - The Tampa Police Department has made some changes to its DUI unit after the agency came under scrutiny because of a high profile legal case involving radio personalities Todd Schnitt and Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem. 

The DUI unit was decentralized to improve oversight and accountability, the Tampa Police Department announced on Thursday.

Four DUI officers will be assigned to each district throughout the city. Other changes include more complete police reports, updated DUI incident reports, expanded use of field sobriety tests and video recordings. Results of blood alcohol tests will also be included in criminal arrest affidavits.

The changes came about after a controversial legal case involving Todd Schnitt and Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem. During a civil suit between the two, Schnitt's attorney Phil Campbell was arrested for driving under the influence.

An investigation later revealed that the arrest was prompted by phone calls and texts from attorneys from Clem's law firm to a member of the Tampa Police DUI unit.

The case against Campbell was eventually thrown out, but Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor acknowledged the reputation of the DUI unit and the department were damaged.

"Violations have been revealed that are alarming and require action now," said Castor.

The Chief then fired DUI Sergeant Ray Fernandez saying, "Sergeant Fernandez also showed his lack of integrity when he claimed that he accidentally deleted 96 text messages exchanged with his friend. Any teenager with a smartphone can tell you this isn't possible."

An initial investigation revealed Fernandez has a personal relationship with members of the Diaco law firm that represented Clem's interests in the civil suit with Schnitt.

Castor also appointed a team to investigate other DUI cases that Fernandez and officer Tim McGinnis. McGinnis was involved in the arrest of Campbell.


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