ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- A handful of deputies who used to wear the badge in St. Johns County, no longer do. Turns out, five deputies with the St. John's County Sheriff's Office have been involved in domestic violence cases within the past year.
"I would certainly say five [cases] in a 12-month time frame is not normal," said St. Johns County Sheriff's Commander Chuck Mulligan.
The latest arrest is of Deputy Jeremy Galentine who "choked" his girlfriend and repeatedly struck her in the face, according to an arrest report.
Mulligan said the agency has taken action with these cases.
"Of those five, four individuals are no longer employed at the Sheriff's office," Mulligan said. "I think that shows a level of accountability, that when we have these issues arise, that we will address it as an agency."
One deputy has not resigned or has been fired is Deputy Scott O'Connell. There is an internal affairs investigation going on in that case.
O'Connell was arrested in early July. According to the sheriff's office, he punched a woman in the face with a closed fist during an argument.
Mulligan said all five cases this year are not connected to each other.
"Of these individuals, none of them live together. Many are not on the same shifts, they're not even in the same divisions. So these are all separate instances by people who made a choice," Mulligan noted.
According to the National Center for Women and Policing, two studies have found that at least 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10 percent of families in the general population.
Mulligan said the Sheriff's Office has policies that are stricter than the laws.
He said the agency provides counseling to employees for free.
"They can reach out anonymously and get that handled," Mulligan said. "However, that has to be done before committing a criminal act."
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