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06-01-2007, 10:30 AM
Fort Lauderdale officer who practiced bagpipes on duty resigns to avoid firing

By Brittany Wallman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted June 1 2007


FORT LAUDERDALE A police officer with a history of disciplinary cases, including for practicing the bagpipes when he should have been on patrol, has resigned rather than be fired.

Officer Keith J. Kowalski quit after 23 years on the force, after Chief Bruce Roberts told him in writing he was suspended without pay and then would be dismissed for not doing his job, according to police investigative records. He was suspended April 27 and his dismissal would have been effective May 25.



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Police spokesman Sgt. Frank Sousa said Kowalski's May 8 resignation was accepted "in bad standing," and the status was reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in case Kowalski applies for police work elsewhere.

Kowalski, 49, has repeatedly been disciplined for neglecting his duties and was issued a final warning by Roberts five years ago, according to records.

Still, he kept his job despite a scathing disciplinary report in 2005, when he was suspended 16 days for not helping an elderly woman who had been hit by two vehicles and lay dying on the roadway.

"His decision-making is questionable and poses a danger to himself as well as other officers and the public he serves," police Maj. Mary Negrey wrote in a memo at the time.

Kowalski could not be reached for comment. Union officials said they had no comment because Kowalski resigned.

In 2001, Kowalski was suspended three days after the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported he repeatedly played the bagpipes at a fire station and lifted weights there when he was supposed to be working.

In another case, in 2002, he was close enough to a double-shooting to hear the gunshots, officials said, but didn't respond to the scene. Instead, he went to talk to a union representative about another discipline case in which he was accused of not responding to a dispatch call. He was suspended 15 days and issued a final warning.

"Your actions displayed a total disregard for the safety of the residents of our community and the members of this department," Roberts wrote in a letter to Kowalski at the time.

In 2003, a TV news cameraman videotaped him kneeing a shackled, handcuffed suspect in the side. Some in the public called for his firing, but he was exonerated after a lengthy investigation.

In the latest incidents that culminated in his recommended dismissal, according to the investigative file, Kowalski didn't respond to two silent distress alarms on different dates in fall 2006, both times while he was on duty and not involved with another call. Kowalski was at home when one of the alarm calls came in, and he then drove past the location without stopping, police officials said.

Kowalski told his superiors he didn't hear either broadcast, an explanation they found unacceptable.

Investigators also found that Kowalski, assigned to patrol the beach area, spent a lot of time at home, according to police records.

Investigators used vehicle locator devices to examine Kowalski's habits on 49 workdays in 2006 and found he went home 54 times in that period for an average of 35 minutes, one time for an hour and a half.

He told investigators he went home to eat, but he also took daily meal breaks at the police station, according to a memo from Internal Affairs Capt. Rick Maglione.

He was also found to have been untruthful in his sworn testimony about his visits home, according to Internal Affairs documents. And in a subsequent investigation in April, Kowalski was found to have neglected his duties when he didn't respond to a pedestrian hit by a vehicle two blocks away from his location. Kowalski said he was using the bathroom.

"Your conduct demonstrated a flagrant disregard for department rules and regulations, showed a pattern of poor judgment and violated the basic trust placed in you as a police officer," Roberts wrote in the termination letter.

06-02-2007, 04:55 AM
wow I wounder why the sun sentinel love to put our department's business on blast ?

06-03-2007, 05:36 AM
that means another position open at FLPD!!

06-04-2007, 11:15 AM
Bring on the Broward Sheriffs Office.........PLEASE!!!!!