JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office sergeant is still on the job despite trying to sell police-issued equipment online.
Sgt. Richard Vercruysse, who has been with JSO at least since 2005, recently completed a 45-day suspension without pay for listing a used badge wallet, a duty belt, and a gun magazine case on the eBay website.
“It’s issued equipment or gear,” crime analyst and 35-year law enforcement veteran Mark Baughman said to First Coast News on Monday. “That’s definitely not appropriate and there should be some disciplinary action taken against that individual.”
The internal investigation began in August 2018 after the listings had been discovered. The State Attorney’s office found probable cause for a criminal charge of petty theft – a second-degree misdemeanor – no charges were filed. Nevertheless, JSO handed Vercruysse the longest suspension of his career. His Administrative Investigation History also shows a 20-day suspension in 2008 for violation of law, failure to conform to work standards, and unbecoming conduct, as well as a 30-day suspension in 2011 for failure to be wholly candid and repeated infractions of failure to conform to work standards. The report indicates no further detail in those or other incidents.
According to the most recent investigation, JSO said the listed items had cost the department a total of $60.87 and that Vercruysse claimed to profit even less, at $60.50.
“If he derives money off of something that he didn’t pay for that was issued to him, it’s still theft,” Baughman asserted.
We asked Baughman how fair a comparison Vercruysse’s punishment is with that against Steven Brown and Frank Holtsman, two JSO veterans fired in recent years for falsifying hours worked.
“Those were off-duty jobs that they were working, so there was a victim there other than the Sheriff’s Office,” Baughman said, contrasting the cases. “I would say [Vercruysse] is right probably at that same level as them. Now, why [JSO] did not terminate, that’s the decision that they make.”
That said, Baughman insisted that sheriffs’ offices are highly motivated to be impartial, despite occasional impressions of favorable treatment for some officers.
“I do know that they try to lean to be consistent,” he said.
The investigation also reports that Vercruysse acknowledged that it was a “stupid” decision to sell police-issued equipment. Baughman said one more similar offense would probably be Vercruysse’s last with the department.
“Something that there were some malice, there was some intent? I would think that may lead to termination,” he said.