- A former Florida police officer has been accused of allegedly using police databases to inappropriately contact and date at least 150 women.
- Bradenton Sgt. Leonel Marines’ behaviour dates back to at least 2012, Police Chief Melanie Bevan acknowledged at a news conference last week. The former officer used various ways to find women, including social media, cold telephone calls, and in-person visits to their homes.
- Marines is now the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI.
- “This is truly a disturbing situation for me as chief,” Bevan said.
In the latest example of odd – and troubling – Florida news, a police officer is under investigation by the FBI for allegedly using police databases to try and hit on at least 150 women.
Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan said at a Thursday news conference that former Sgt. Leonel Marines, a 12-year veteran of the police force, used his standing as an officer to inappropriately contact dozens of women. She said that he employed social media, cold telephone calls, and in-person visits to womens’ homes to try and date them, focusing his attention particularly on Hispanic women who did not speak English.
“This is truly a disturbing situation for me as chief,” Bevan said, adding that over the past couple of weeks she has personally met with the women involved to “help them regain their trust in the Bradenton Police Department and to ensure them that Marines’ actions are not a representation of those who so proudly wear this uniform and badge.”
Last June, a couple in Bradenton – a beachside community south of Tampa – notified police after Marines showed up at their home asking if he could speak to their adult daughter, Bevan said. Marines encountered the woman at a local parking lot before following her home, Bevan said at the news conference. Marines told the woman’s parents that he needed to speak to her about a domestic matter.
The couple knew their daughter wasn’t involved in any domestic incidents and questioned Marines about his request, asking for his name and supervisor’s information. According to Bevan, he refused them and left the property without speaking to their daughter.
Immediately after the encounter, the couple called the Bradenton Police Department to report the alarming behaviour, Bevan said. That citizen complaint sparked a full-blown investigation into Marine’s behaviour that included five investigators and thousands of hours spent mining data and interviewing those involved.
Marines was placed on administrative leave without pay and stripped of his badge, guns, and uniform before ultimately resigning in October.
— Samantha Sonner (@SamanthaSonner) March 7, 2019
Marines is now the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI.
“A very, very clear trend of focusing on female, versus male names, emerged,” Bevan said when describing the department’s investigation, which included an audit of Marines’ record use and patrol activity. “To get right to the root of the matter, Leonel Marines was not utilising this data for law enforcement purposes whatsoever.”
This is not the first time that Marines has allegedly used police data for dubious reasons. His behaviour stretches back as far as 2012, Bevans acknowledged. As the Bradenton Herald reports, a woman filed a complaint against Marines in March 2012 after he showed up to her home on several occasions and asked personal questions unrelated to any police investigation. The woman questioned how Marines obtained her personal information.
Investigators determined that Marines accessed the woman’s personal information twice using the Driver and Vehicle Information Database. He subsequently recieved a three-day suspension without pay.
Bevan said that she grew suspicious last June after the couple’s story about why Marines showed up at their door differed so drastically from his own account. When questioned by his watch commander about why he followed the woman home, Marines said that one of her headlights was out and he thought she was impaired.
“I sat down with her and her parents and I told them they were heroes, as far as I was concerned,” Bevan said. “In this day and age, I think it takes a little bit of courage to be willing to tell a police officer standing at the door, ‘No, we don’t want to let you talk to our daughter.’ “
Watch the full news conference here