CLERMONT, Fla. – A five-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has led to the arrest of a veteran Clermont police officer on Wednesday on five counts of perjury by false written declaration.
Clermont Police Chief Charles Broadway addressed the media on Thursday morning after an investigation led to accusations that a Clermont police officer, Cecil Garrett, lied in reports, affidavits and other sworn testimony.
A warrant was issued for Garret's arrest, and he turned himself in on Wednesday. He has been placed on paid administrative leave since March 10, after the Clermont Police Department received multiple citizen complaints, according to a news release.
Garrett is now on leave with the police department without pay pending the judicial process, Broadway said.
Officials with the State Attorney's office said that they substantiated those claims in February, finding that Garrett was untruthful in reports, affidavits, sworn testimony and in his documentation of interactions while on duty, officials said.
The state attorney's office and the Clermont Police Department forwarded their findings to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement so the agency could conduct an independent criminal review.
“This arrest stems from a series of isolated incidents that were dealt with swiftly and expeditiously,” Broadway said. “It is in no way reflective of the hard-working men and women of the Clermont Police Department and their commitment to serving the public with integrity and professionalism.”
"Whenever a police officer is accused of wrongdoing and or committing a crime, it has a tremendous impact on the fabric of his profession," Broadway said.
News 6 requested Garrett's affidavits from the State Attorney's Office and the documents revealed Garrett wrote 144 criminal citations for driving with a suspended, revoked or not valid license resulting in 73 physical arrests since 2011.
Of those arrests, Garrett indicated that he had "prior knowledge of defendant's driver's license suspension or revocation," of 42 of them. Eleven of those affidavits contained false information based on his reporting inquiry to confirm the driver's license or driver's identity before the traffic stop, where the information was found after the traffic stop, the document said.
According to the affidavit, records indicate Garrett queried information 23 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes before the traffic stop.