BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said Tuesday the man who posted comments on the Brevard Fraternal Order of Police’s Facebook page is a lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Office and has been suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation into the comments.
"The, the person that made the statement, Lieutenant Gamin, is a member of our agency,” Ivey said. “And yesterday afternoon I authorized an internal investigation into his actions. He has been suspended pending the outcome of that internal, and we will give that internal an opportunity to identify everything that took place, looking into every aspect of it. And then I will deal with the results of that internal, and his actions.”
Brevard County F.O.P. President Bert Gamin, who said he is a 28-year law enforcement veteran, with two years as a Melbourne Police Department reservist and 26 years with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, claimed responsibility for the recruitment post.
Gamin has apologized for the posts that have since been deleted. The posts called on those officers involved in violent incidents in Buffalo, NY and Atlanta, GA, to join the ranks of local police agencies, drawing howls of outrage from citizens across Florida.
"Hey Buffalo 57... and Atlanta 6... we are hiring in Florida. Lower taxes, no spineless leadership, or dumb mayors rambling on at press conferences... Plus... we got your back! #lawandorderFlorida,” reads the June 6 post made at 1:21 a.m on the Brevard County F.O.P. Facebook page.
In Buffalo, 57 police officers quit their unit after two of their colleagues were suspended for pushing an unarmed 75-year-old man to the ground, cracking his skull. The incident was caught on video.
In Atlanta., six officers were criminally charged, four with felonies, for the arrest of two black college students, a man and a woman, while leaving a protest in their car. The incident, also caught on video, shows them violently removing the pair from the vehicle, tasing them and slamming them to the ground. One of the students suffered a broken wrist and a deep gash.
The post, deleted sometime Monday morning, garnered over 2,000 comments and 1,000 shares, reports News 6 partner Florida Today.
“Our citizens will judge me on what Bert Gamin did,” Ivey said. “They’ll judge me on how I handle what Bert Gamin did. And that’s why we’re standing here today I’m handling what he did. I’m embarrassed by it. I’m infuriated by it. And I’m having it investigated, and we’re doing our due responsibility. Just like we would investigate anything else, any citizen that was named in an investigation, we would investigate. But at the end of the day, I think each of you can stand here and know me long enough to know how furious I am about this, and about the embarrassment this calls to law enforcement.”
Ivey said that it is standard procedure to suspend employees with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
“By policy, I have to because he hasn’t been charged with a crime. It has to be with pay, that’s my policy,” Ivey said. “Had he had he been charged with a crime I could have suspended without (pay) which would have been my preference, but by policy I have to, I have to do it this way.”
The F.O.P. is the largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers in the country, representing some 300,000 members across some 2,000 local “lodges.” Critics say the non-profit organization is a major obstacle to policing reform through their advocacy and deep ties to police unions.
Ivey reiterated that the F.O.P. “is not tasked with recruiting people for law enforcement agencies” and does not reflect BCSO.
Gamin released a statement Monday apologizing for the posts, saying in part, “I let my emotions and frustration get the better of me as a result of all the continually negative media portrayals of law enforcement. My intent was to respond to some of the negative messaging and offer a supportive message to all the men and women in law enforcement. Clearly, I failed doing so.”
Ivey said he has not read the public apology Gamin issued, but spoke with him and found his regrets to be sincere.
“You know I haven’t read his online apology. I have not. I was sitting across the table from him. During our very involved discussion as you might imagine, and he seemed sincere in what he was saying to me, you know,” Ivey said. “Lieutenant Gamin has been with our agency for 27 years. He has life saving awards, a number of other accommodations that go with that does not excuse what he did in that scenario. But to answer your question. He absolutely seemed forthright is his apology.”
While Ivey said Gamin’s remarks were not in any way representative of BCSO, he did say that the actions of one cannot define the reputation of all.
“Listen, just because somebody wears one uniform or something and does something bad, you can’t label everybody as bad. The Fraternal Order of Police does a great job at helping get resources for law enforcement and, you know, doing the different things they do, they’re a good organization,” Ivey said. “They’re out helping their community. They’re great role models for their youth in their community. He was a bad apple in that. And so I don’t think you can you can characterize the fop based upon what this one individual did.”