Can cops who break the law still uphold the law? 8 On Your Side investigates

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Can a police officer who breaks the law still be trusted to uphold the law?

Last week, 8 On Your Side obtained Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren’s “Brady list,” nearly 90 current and former officers with a history of behavior that could diminish their credibility in court.

The majority are no longer active duty here locally. But more than a dozen still are, including Plant City Police Department officer Greg Nelsen.

Nelsen’s place on the Brady list did not stop Plant City police from hiring him.

In August 2019, court documents show Nelsen, then a Florida State Trooper, was arrested by his own agency after a car crash on I-4 in Hillsborough County. The arrest affidavit shows he failed a field sobriety test, and a breath alcohol test showed a BAC of twice the legal limit.

FHP eventually fired Nelsen but he was sworn in by Plant City police less than three months later, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page congratulating his swearing-in.

The police department confirmed Nelsen is still employed as a patrol officer and traffic crash investigator on the night shift.

While on duty, Nelsen has also been on probation. Court records show he has violated probation at least three times in connection to the ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle.

Nelson’s track record may be questionable, but does it prevent him from objective policing?

The police department says no, describing Nelsen as a “model officer” and an asset to the agency and community. According to a department spokesperson, Nelsen took responsibility for his actions and the chief believed the young man displayed qualities deserving of a second chance.

There is still, however, a potential conflict of interest. Even though Nelsen’s initial DUI charge was reduced to reckless driving, that history could prevent him from taking the stand to testify in cases where drunk driving is involved.

Retired Tampa Bay area police officer Dave Bryant doesn’t know if Nelsen’s circumstances should be career-ending, but explained they are undoubtedly problematic.

“And certainly any cases he’s involved in, that’s going to get looked at,” Bryant said. “Both by the prosecutor and the defense attorney.”

8 On Your Side spoke to Nelsen by phone who declined to interview or comment on the story.


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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