Police Detective Botches 82 Special Victims Cases, Walks Away With Career Mostly Intact
from the how-not-to-fix-the-problem dept
When it comes to criminals, most people agree that those who sexually victimize children are the worst of the worst. What happens when you turn over sensitive cases to a detective who apparently doesn’t feel like doing the job? Well, cases fall into the cracks, along with the victims. Sure, even the best detectives and Special Victims Units are going to have a few that “get away.” But in the case of Detective Tammy Kilgore Alois, it wasn’t just a few that “got away.” It was dozens. (via Crooks and Liars)
The Coconut Creek police botched dozens of criminal cases involving disturbing reports about children who were raped or abused and seniors who were neglected or exploited.
The 82 “special victims” cases from 2010-2012 were the focus of a trio of internal police investigations and part of another, more wide-ranging investigation by the Broward State Attorney’s Office of Coconut Creek Police Chief Michael Mann.
The 82 cases investigated were all linked to the same detective: Tammy Alois. Alois failed to interview witnesses and victims and mishandled evidence. She skipped out on writing reports or presenting cases to prosecutors. Some cases were closed by Alois without any apparent investigation occurring. As a result, accused persons walked, if they were ever picked up in the first place.
Worse, her neglect of these cases meant victims and their families were approached again in a belated effort to pursue Alois’ neglected caseload. This reopened closed wounds. Many of those approached turned down the chance at delayed justice in order to protect the exploited from having to relive the experiences.
Alois’ actions not only screwed over the victims of abuse, but it did serious damage to the Coconut Creek PD’s reputation, as one example pulled from the files obtained by the Florida Bulldog makes perfectly clear.
March 15, 2011 – City patrol officers respond to an allegation that an adult male, a former neighbor, had sexually battered a 10-year-old boy on three separate occasions. Alois interviewed the victim on video, but the DVD was not entered into evidence. She filed no report to indicate she’d obtained the statement, nor did she send the case for further review. After Alois’ reassignment, another Coconut Creek detective contacted the boy’s father who became “extremely upset and has refused to answer any more calls.”
Now, the PD has a reputation to repair, but its actions following the exposure of Alois’ misconduct aren’t going to win it any new fans, much less change the opinion of people like the unnamed victim’s father. Alois has been fired from the Coconut Creek police department, but not because of her actions as an SVU detective.
Rather, she was dismissed for violating a “Last Chance Agreement” the city gave her five months earlier in lieu of termination after she admitted to mishandling “numerous” investigations, and to prescription drug abuse. The violation was for failing to write a report about a burglary after she’d been transferred to road patrol.
Alois’ discipline for bungling 82 “high liability” cases: a four-week suspension without pay – the most allowed under restrictions agreed to by the city in its contract with the Broward County Police Benevolent Association.
Allowing Alois to bargain herself out of more severe punishment isn’t going to ensure future accountability. The PD is obviously hamstrung by its agreement with the police union, something that is going to continue to work against its reputation. Further actions — or lack thereof — by entities involved in the investigation only further call into question the government’s interest in holding its employees responsible for their misdeeds. Alois pretty much walked away clean from multiple years of failing in every aspect of her job. Those charged with policing the police don’t appear to be too concerned with this outcome.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office did not investigate Alois for possible criminal misconduct in the matter.
Police records contain no indication that department officials who failed to notice or take action about what was happening during the three years that Alois seriously neglected her cases were disciplined, or even investigated.
Police chief Michael Mann says Alois’ boss, Lt. Scott Tabel, was “basically let go” because of this investigation. Tabel — now employed as a police officer with the Palm Springs School District– claims he “retired” after 21 years with the Coconut Creek PD, rather than being forced out due to Alois’ actions while under his supervision.
In fact, Tabel spins it the other way. He claims Mann was apprised of Alois’ lousy work back in 2011, but that the Chief “didn’t want to do anything about it.” Other statements gathered by The Florida Bulldog back up this assertion.
Biondolillo testified that he ordered a full IA investigation, but said it was “countermanded” by Chief Mann. Instead, Mann asked the city’s Human Resources department to handle it administratively, he said.
Biondolillo testified that wasn’t the first time Mann had countermanded him regarding the need to investigate Alois.
He said that on two previous occasions Drug Enforcement Administration agents had visited him and Mann to inform them of evidence they’d found that Alois was a patient at pain clinics under surveillance as suspected pill mills.
Whatever the truth is, it still looks bad for the police department. Alois, apparently abusing drugs during her years as an SVU detective, has been allowed to walk away with her professional reputation pretty much intact. Her record will only show a dismissal for a single failure to write a report — a burglary report at that, rather than anything linked to her neglect of children abused by adults, or seniors abused by children and assisted living personnel. If she’s so inclined, she’ll probably be able to secure another position in the law enforcement field, which has proven willing to launder bad cops.
As for Chief Mann, he’s also been cleared of any wrongdoing in this investigation. As the person ultimately responsible for Alois’ failure (and her single count of misconduct), he bears some of this burden… or would if anyone was willing to hold him accountable. But it appears he’ll also emerge from this unscathed. The only thing left to salvage is the PD’s reputation, but those who are trying to do so appear to be stymied by those higher on the food chain: Chief Mann, the state’s attorney and the police union. Because of this, future misconduct will be allowed to continue for far too long and the repercussions will be far too mild to encourage better behavior. And those wondering why good cops don’t do something about the bad apples in their midst will have their depressing answer: the system protects its own, especially its worst-behaving insiders.