Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Unfit for Duty

German Bosque’s personnel file looks more like a rap sheet than a résumé.

In two decades, the Opa-Locka Police Department opened 40 internal affairs cases on Bosque. Sixteen of them were for battery or excessive force.

Fired five times and arrested three, he was charged with stealing a car, trying to board an airplane with a loaded gun and driving with a suspended license.

Internal Affairs investigations found that Bosque split a man’s lip with a head butt. He opened another man’s head with a leg sweep and takedown. He spit in the face of a drunken, stumbling arrestee. One time, he smacked a juvenile so hard the boy’s face was red and swollen the next day.

Bosque has been caught defying direct orders, lying to supervisors and falsifying police reports. Off duty, he was accused by women of domestic violence and stalking. During inspections, the agency found a counterfeit $20 bill, cocaine and crack pipes in his patrol car.

Still, Bosque has kept his badge.

In Florida, the process of investigating and disciplining police officers and prison guards is flawed at every level, allowing troubled lawmen to return to work after repeated acts of misconduct, a Herald-Tribune investigation has found.

Law enforcement agencies around the state employ officers despite cases of serious misconduct in their past, involving everything from violence and perjury to drugs and sexual assault. Many more cases stay hidden because agencies fail to thoroughly investigate or report complaints.

When agencies do try to rid themselves of problem officers, they are often thwarted by the state’s powerful law enforcement unions, which have lobbied to give officers better protections and more opportunities to overturn negative findings.

At the same time, the group of state officials that is supposed to be the last line of defense against wayward officers declines chance after chance to strip them of their certifications.

No officer exemplifies the failure of Florida’s system better than Bosque.

In a computer analysis of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s discipline cases, the Herald-Tribune found Bosque’s certificate had been jeopardized due to misconduct more than any other working officer.

During an August interview in Opa-Locka, Bosque lit up with excitement when he heard that he led the state in discipline cases.

“I can’t believe that,” he said. “I’m not trying to smile. I just … damn!”

A high-level staff member with the FDLE’s Bureau of Officer Standards had a different reaction. He first said it wasn’t possible for an officer to get in trouble that many times and still be certified.

Then he pulled Bosque’s records.

His response: “Holy s–t.”

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