More than a year before his recent arrest, Windermere Police Chief Daniel Saylor asked Florida's largest police executive organization to destroy public records documenting his suspension for misbehavior, records released this week show.
The Florida Police Chiefs Association refused Saylor's request to "shred or destroy his suspension letter" for an incident involving a vendor's wife at the group's summer conference in 2009, those records show.
"I told him absolutely not," wrote Amy Mercer, executive director of the 800-member organization that abides by state public record laws protecting citizens' right to scrutinize government.
Police chiefs belonging to the FPCA declined this week to say what happened in the conference's "hospitality room." But records show Saylor's actions were considered so objectionable that the FPCA Board of Directors held a special meeting two days after the June 14, 2009 incident and suspended him by an unanimous vote.
Saylor resigned the next day citing "personal reasons" in an email sent from his Windermere police department address.
"I guess you could call it unprecedented," Mercer said from Tallahassee in a telephone interview. "It has not happened before in my (12-year) tenure."
Windermere suspended Saylor, 44, without pay last week after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested him for shutting down a child rape investigation to help a friend, court records show. He was charged with one count of giving unlawful compensation for official behavior and one count of official misconduct and released a day later from the Orange County Jail after posting $5,150 in bail.
His friend, 50-year-old Scott Frederick Bush of Windermere, remains held without bail in the Orange County Jail charged with sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under 12 years old, records show. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
Under Saylor's command, the Windermere Police Department became known in Central Florida law enforcement circles for hiring officers who resigned from other agencies while under investigation and facing termination.
Saylor joined the force in 1997, a year after resigning from the Melbourne Police Department while under investigation for allegedly picking up a prostitute in Orlando, records show.
Windermere Town Manager Cecilia Bernier, who promoted Saylor to police chief in 2002, did not respond to a written request on Tuesday about whether he told her about the FPCA suspension. Records show the FPCA advised the upset vendor that "further complaints involving this incident should be directed to Chief Saylor's agency or city."
The vendor, John Irvin of the Ajax Building Corporation in Jacksonville, did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
Saylor could not be reached for comment. But his lawyer, Orlando attorney Mark NeJame said, "our focus at this time needs to be preparing his case. There will be a time and a place where we will address the truth about a multitude of issues."
Bernier last year called Windermere PD "the best department in Orange County." But FDLE records show Windermere's troubled history continued under Saylor's watch.
One officer was accused last year of attacking a supervisor at his full-time job when told he was being fired from that job, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
Part-time Officer Gregory Fields was accused of shoving a manager at Stericycle, a medical waste disposal company, and trying to start a fist fight, records state. When told the company would call police, , Fields responded with profanity by saying, "I am the [expletive] police, come find me after work and I will smoke you…" records state.
The sheriff's office recommended that Fields be prosecuted for battery. This week, the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office said the case was listed as "under review." Fields joined Windermere in 2008 after the sheriff's office fired him for falsifying records, according to sheriff's records. FDLE records show Fields remains a Windermere police officer.
Orlando police records also show Saylor changed his mind after promising to fire a Windermere police officer for triggering a countywide emergency response reserved for life-or-death situations while working off-duty and without jurisdiction at an Orlando apartment complex last year.
On the night of May 22, Windermere Officer Raul Carvajal made a Signal 43, "RUSH - Officer Needs Help" radio call after pulling his gun on a tenant at the Monte Vista Apartments on Conroy Road, records show. When multiple police units responded, Carvajal said the tenant threatened him with a beer bottle but declined to press charges, records show. Saylor told Orlando officials he would "dismiss" Carvajal, but later said he suspended him instead. Carvajal still works as an officer in Windermere, according to FDLE records.
Henry Pierson Curtis can be reached at 407-420-5257 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times