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St. Augustine Beach Police officers lose access to crime computer systems

7:51 PM, May 30, 2012   |    comments
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ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. -- There is another twist in the investigation of the St. Augustine Beach Police Chief and his department.

The nine officers who filed the complaint against Chief Richard Hedges and the Assistant Chief are now under investigation as well.

When they filed the complaint -- claiming the chief had committed criminal and administrative wrongs -- the officers may have revealed confidential information taken from national and state crime computer systems.

While an investigation is now underway to determine if the officers violated a usage agreement with National Crime Information Center and with the Florida Crime Information Center, the officers cannot access the crime computer systems on their own.

On May 10th, the St. Augustine Beach Police Department's Administrative Assistant sent an email to the officers.

First Coast News obtained a copy of that email.  It said "Your CJIS (Criminal Justice Information Services) certification has been suspended by FDLE for publicly releasing FCIC/NCIC and DHSMV (Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) records. As per protocol this is required until an investigation in completed."

They have to radio-in to the St. Johns County Sheriff's office, a separate agency, for information on such things as license plates and driver's licenses.

Mike Scudeiro with the Florida Coastal Public Employees Association represents the officers who filed the complaint against the chief.

He said now that the officers cannot access the computers on their own, it "causes a little delay" on the job. He said it's "not ideal."

He said that the officers are upset about the action.

Scudiero said, "we believe what's in the complaint far outweighs any violation by the messengers of the complaint."

Chief Richard Hedges' attorney is Patrick Canan. He said, "I've always been suspicious of the motives of the people who made the allegations. I'm happy to see their behavior and conduct is being investigated."

According to Sgt. Chuck Mulligan with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office is investigating the release of information considered to be confidential and that which pertains to the usage agreement with NCIC and FCIC.

Meanwhile, the FDLE continues to investigate the complaint filed against Chief Hedges.

The Florida Commission on Ethics is investigating similar allegations against the chief. Recently, an advocate for Commission on Ethics concluded her investigation and found there is "no probable cause" to find Chief Hedges guilty of the violations alleged in the complaint. It's expected she will make a recommendation to the commission. The commission will then make a final determination.

Canan, Hedges attorney, said that was a "good sign for Hedges."

First Coast News

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