View Full Version : Results of internal affairs investigation recommended termin

07-25-2007, 11:17 PM
Former officer of the year and SRO quits

Results of internal affairs investigation recommended termination

NORTH PORT -- A former North Port police officer of the year in 2005 who was "big in the hearts" of his elementary school students, resigned Tuesday because of an internal affairs investigation.

J.W. Triplett resigned after the investigation affirmed four charges made against him June 27 by his supervisor, Lt. Stephen Lorenz.

Lorenz reported an incident to Chief Terry Lewis after one of the new officers brought to his attention a video Triplett was showing of a woman exposing her breasts in the back seat of his police car.

Triplett was accused of divulging confidential records, neglect of job duties, conduct which creates doubt regarding honesty, and conduct unbecoming a police officer.

While investigating a hit and run June 21 in front of the Publix supermarket on U.S. 41, Triplett took two female witnesses to the location where police found the suspected driver. While on his way to the location, Triplett activated his in-car video camera system.

Triplett left his car with the two women inside to continue his investigation, Estrada said he believed that one of the women in the car flashed her breasts "on a dare" at the in-car camera.

Triplett's resignation came one day after he met with Lewis, who told him he was recommending his termination to City Manager Steven Crowell.

Attempts to contact Triplett were unsuccessful.

Internal Affairs Investigator Oscar Basora, assisted by Capt. Kevin Vespia, said he found that Triplett lied to him during his investigation, and to two women witnesses after he promised he would not show the in-car recording of one of the women exposing her breasts to the camera to anyone.

Instead, the investigation revealed that Triplett, after making the promise, showed it to numerous officers and some civilians.

Triplett first showed the video clip from his car to other officers on his squad. Afterwards, he downloaded the video to his portable memory stick, and eventually projected it on the big screen in the training room, in front of at least five officers and two prospective recruits, Lewis said.

"It was a terrible lapse of judgment," Lewis said of Triplett's actions. "The citizens of North Port expect and deserve a professional agency, I cannot tolerate behavior like that."

Capt. Robert Estrada said that one of the prospective police recruits who was not hired by the department also saw the video.

"You have to wonder what he is thinking about us as an organization," Estrada said.

During Vespia's questioning, he eluded that Triplett might have suggested or encouraged one of the women to flash the camera.

"If I remember you (Triplett) actually almost encouraged it, you didn't, but you had mentioned that it would be nice or that it would be cool or something like that," Vespia said in the transcript of Triplett's recorded statement.

Triplett tried to dodge the question, first saying he would never suggest that, then saying he did not "remember stating that."

Triplett then said he remembered that the women were "wild."

"I mean they were wild, they were just nuts," Triplett said. "And I may have said something jokingly, but no I never would have encouraged what actually occurred on that day."

When Triplett returned to his vehicle, the women asked if the camera was turned on, and according to the investigation, Triplett showed them the recording, showing one of them flashing the camera.

The women asked that Triplett not show the recording to anyone, and the investigation claims he promised he would not.

The investigation also claimed that the two women were reading the hit and run suspect's personal information off the police computer terminal and Triplett's laptop in his car.

According to Florida Statutes, this information is confidential. One of the women reportedly asked Triplett: "Is that his social security number?"

Lewis said that Triplett disagreed with his recommendation of termination as punishment. Triplett wanted probation, Lewis said.

You can e-mail George McGinn at gmcginn@sun-herald.com.


Staff Writer

09-10-2007, 06:28 PM

09-10-2007, 08:20 PM
That was a bush league, witch hunt investigation AT BEST!!! NPPD will cost the city of North Port THOUSANDS because of this bumbling Barney Fife investigation. After reviewing this case against this Officer, it's clear to me why they screwed up the Coral Rose investigation! The investigation was flawed from the beginning! There are several inconsistencies and half truths told by the higher ups that any trained attorney or cop will see right through. Stay tuned....it's gonna be interesting.

09-12-2007, 04:26 PM
:o :lol: 8)