Sheriff Donald F Eslinger
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When the Cream of the Crop

is the bottom of the barrel

What are we to do when the Cream of the crop is the bottom of the barrel? And what is the result when this cream is in a position of authority over a large municipal Police Department? Could it be that those under this leadership will reflect the high standards and integrity of those in authority positions over them? Why should we expect more from those at the bottom than we demand from those at the top?

Just maybe, in the next few lines we will be able to share some insight and obtain some answers to the questions presented.

Once again our local news media has touched on a story involving one of our finest in the Central Florida law enforcement community.(1) The subject of this story centers around a veteran police officer with the Altamonte Springs Police Department, Donnie Riggins, who has obtained the rank of Senior Patrol Officer (SPO). Knowing that the news article would only devote less than three minutes to the story it was refreshing to see that WFTV Channel 9 News provided an entire copy of the Internal Affairs Investigative Report # 11-0501-01 (2) as well as the entire unedited broadcast of the Lake Brantley High School Broadcast of October 21, 2011. (3)

You would think that any message presented to our children concerning the dangers of alcoholic beverages and driving a vehicle presented by a trained professional police officer would be positive. But in this instance the message gets lost in the intentional actions committed by this officer in order to "get back at Ms. Cahill".(4) In this age of child abuse being committed by untold numbers of teachers here in Florida as well as else where in the United States, against our children, this subject should never be joked about. To intentionally use the name of a teacher in this defamatory and slanderous manner in order to "even the score", goes beyond "poor judgment".(5)

In all fairness to SPO Riggins he is not the only person who has exercised "poor judgment" in this incident. In reading the internal affairs report we learn that the Lake Brantley High School (LBHS) teacher involved, Ms. Jacqueline Cahill also exercised "poor judgment". In a public forum in front of other LBHS teachers, Ms. Cahill, made a sexual remark concerning SPO Riggins and a "Good Ass".(4) Now picture for one second that the shoe was on the other foot and a male employee of LBHS was making a comment towards a female employee of LBHS regarding a "Good Ass". Do you believe for a moment that this would not make the news. And just how long before some labor attorney would file a law suit for sexual harassment concerning a hostile work place. Lets see if anything comes from this, but considering our Seminole County School Board, do not hold your breath.

While SPO Riggins’ actions are totally inexcusable so are the comments made by Ms. Cahill. When you lower the standards and the rules then you should expect the same. We will not even deal with the issue concerning all the other teachers and what they did or did not do.
Had these two professionals kept their bantering in private then no one would have suffered from their stupidity. And yes it was stupid for Ms. Cahill to use her language skills towards SPO Riggins, and yes it was stupid for SPO Riggins to utilize a public format to continue his childish bantering. But the stupidest thing was for their actions to cause other people to do stupid things. Maybe you can find a more politically correct word than "stupid" but in this case it seems to fit.

So lets examine what else happened as a result of these two professionals who are entrusted with the education of our children as well as their protection. Ms. Jane Warkentien also a teacher at LBHS believed that she needed to lie to her students because of the "shocked look on their faces" upon hearing and seeing the broadcast. (6) Now in what world must a person live in which they believe it is ok to lie to your students? Does this "teacher" not think that the truth would get out? Did this teacher not understand that the students once lied to might not trust her again? Would these students not have every right to not believe this teacher in the future?

Well Ms. Warkentien you were wrong. One of the most important things as an educator that we entrust to you, is the truth. "IN LOCO PARENTIS", this is a legal term that as an educator you should be well aware of. It means:

"In the place of a parent; charged, factitiously, with a parent’s rights, duties, and responsibilities." (See Blacks Law Dictionary Revised Fourth Edition)

For your actions in this instance you deserve an "F". Hope this does not hurt your feelings or "shock you". You should be real proud of yourself and for your actions as well as your "poor judgment". Lets see if anything comes out of this teachers actions.

But the effects do not stop here. SPO Riggins then accuses Assistant Principal Joe Trybus of being a liar. Or do we call it mis-speaking, or a mis-understanding or are there nicer and kinder words that can be used? On two separate incidents in the investigative report it states:

"According to SPO Riggins, he has no idea why Mr. Trybus would say that when it never occurred." (7)

"SPO Riggins stated that he had never stated that." (8)

Now either SPO Riggins is lying or Mr. Trybus is. Will this issue be investigated and resolved? Do not hold your breath on this either. See the problem with lying, there seems to be a "pattern forming" here to quote the Internal Report.

You would think that all the above would be enough. But sadly that is not the case. We are then confronted with yet another employee of LBHS who has become involved in this whole mess. You see this was not the first time that SPO Riggins used the name of a LBHS employee in one of his broadcasts. There was an incident involving a female Security Guard Tony Moore, but Ms. Moore declined to be interviewed. (9) Now how an employee can decline to cooperate with a Police Investigation is yet another story in itself. The questions present themselves as to WHY?

There is a well known and often used expression: If you do not have anything to hide, then why won’t you talk to us? It would be nice to find out what information this employee has concerning this incident, but as with the other issues presented I doubt if we will get any answers. I hope that I am proved wrong. Perception becomes reality.

In my opinion, the public believes that the Interim Chief of Police, J. Michael Deal and the Internal Affairs Lieutenant, Jerry Warriner, should be considered the Cream of the Crop of the Altamonte Springs Police Department. But are they? Or do they occupy a different portion of the barrel?

As punishment for his actions, SPO Donnie Riggins, received a "Notice of Remedial Action".(5) SPO Riggins lost his job as a School Resource Officer and was reassigned to the Patrol Division as well as being required to attend Sensitivity Training. Chief Deal used the two incidents in this investigation as well as a "similar incident on October 6, 2009" as his reasoning for this punishment. Phrases like "errors in judgment", "exercised poor judgment", "pattern of poor judgment" and "cannot be tolerated", as well as "You are reminded that future violations of this particular directive will result in more serious corrective action up to and including termination", are all used by Chief Deal.

Phrases and words like this have meaning if they came from the "Cream of the crop" but not when they come from a man who had committed adultery with a fellow police officer while his wife was recovering from surgery from a severe medical problem. Ask Chief Deal about the night his wife (now divorced from her) came to the Altamonte Springs Police Department and confronted him with the adultery? Ask Chief Deal about his wife striking him in his face over and over while he shielded the hits? Ask Chief Deal about how angry, hurt, and emotional his wife was as she spelled out in detail how he was sleeping with this whore while she was in the hospital? And if Chief Deal denies that this took place then track down Sgt. Jack Martin who witnessed this entire scene play out in the front parking lot. And how is it that I obtained this information, well I was the other Officer that pulled into the parking lot that night and watched and listened to Officer Mike Deal get everything that he deserved. But do not be surprised when you ask these questions if the answer is vague. Officers are taught never to lie, but it is ok to say that you do not remember. It is called selective memory.

But not to be out done, lets look at the integrity of Lt. Jerry Warriner. When you get a moment ask him about his old hobby concerning his DEATH BOOK. You see officer Warriner really enjoyed taking extra pictures of dead persons and keeping a private record in an album at his home. He really enjoyed sharing his collection with fellow officers after work while enjoying a few adult beverages at his home.

How do I know about this DEATH BOOK, well Officer Warriner was my training officer when I joined the Altamonte Springs Police Department in 1983. And like any rookie you keep your mouth shut and believe that what your superiors are doing is lawful. Years later after moving up the ranks and getting more knowledge I learned what Officer Warriner had done and was doing was wrong if not illegal. After hearing that Officer Warriner still had his DEATH BOOK and that he was still showing it off socially, I requested an investigation against him.

Well the Altamonte Springs Police Department is like a lot of law enforcement agencies. There are those in the click and those outside the click. In Altamonte the click revolved around the softball team for the most part. Well as expected the click circled the wagons and found that my allegations were correct but that Officer Warriners action were lawful. He was required to keep the DEATH BOOK at the Police Department since it was an official public record used for training purposes. Needless to say once you attack one of the click you do not make friends of the rest of the click. Oh well!

So if you had a loved one, friend, or family member who died on or before 1983 till around 1990 you can rest knowing that a bunch of off-duty officers while drinking at Jerry Warriners house were presented photos of your loved ones, friends and family members at the end of their lives. But rest knowing that this was a training program approved by the Cream of the Crop for the City Of Altamonte Springs. And should you not believe me, then conduct a Public Records Inspection as allowed by Florida State Statute 119.07 to examine the DEATH BOOK. Or at least obtain the destruction order for the PUBLIC RECORD. (10)

While this article began with the actions of SPO Riggins and several members of the LBHS it closes with the leadership of the Altamonte Springs Police Department. All too often society puts our law enforcement officers on a high pedestal. The citizen forgets that these officers are often no better and at times worse than the citizens that they serve. But as Citizens we should demand that our public servants that we have empowered to carry firearms, make arrests and enforce our laws be the Cream of the Crop. But when they are the bottom of the barrel we need to let them go and identify them for what they are. Hopefully some of the questions have been answered.

Integrity starts at the top. I would suggest that SPO Riggins not use his Command staff as models. After all look at where they are in the barrel.

CLINK ON LINKS BELOW FOR DOCUMENTS


1. WFTV Story Dec 2, 2011
2. INTERNAL INVESTIGATION REPORT # 11-0501-01
3. VIDEO October 21, 2011 7.5MB
4. Page #10 Internal Investigation report
5. Notice of Remedial Action dated 11/30/11
6. Page 5, Internal Investigative Report
7. Page 11, Internal Investigative Report
8. Page 12, Internal Investigative Report
9. Page 9, Internal Investigative Report
10. Florida State Statute 119.07 Public records inspections

OTHER ALAMONTE SPRINGS POLICE OFFICERS IN THE NEWS


Master Patrol Officer Clay T. Adams July 22, 2008, Federal Drug Weapons Charges (Attached to CCIB Unit Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, under Capt. Sammy Gibson & Sheriff Donald Francis Eslinger)
Master Patrol Officer Mark Maupin June 5, 2009, Resigned under investigation motor vehicle crash.
Officer Asley Rowe February 10, 2010, DUI resigned before being Charged.
Lt. Darin Farber & Officer Kristin Kelting June 4, 2010, Police Lt. Suspended Amid Department Turmoil.
Deputy Chief George Small June 11, 2010, resigned pending investigation for fixing traffic citations.
Lt. Matt Tegge, Officer Bryan Burke and Officer Clay Toomes April 4, 2011.
Chief Robert Merchant (Retired) April 19, 2011.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"
-Edmund Burke