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'The public rightfully expects better from us:' Putnam County sergeant fired over allegations of relationship with inmate

Deputies say the woman has since been released and now lives with him.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Putnam County sergeant has been fired after an internal investigation revealed the 23-year-veteran of the force allegedly engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a woman while she was incarcerated.

In a press release, Sheriff H.D. “Gator” DeLoach said he terminated the employment of Sergeant Dennis Hayes Thursday.

The Chief Deputy, Colonel Joseph Wells, has placed Hayes on administrative leave and revoked his law enforcement authority until the completion of the internal investigation that began on Feb. 16, 2022. 

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office says the investigation began after deputies received information that Hayes was possibly in a romantic relationship with the woman, and that the relationship began during her incarceration. 

Assigned as a uniformed patrol shift commander, deputies say Hayes began personal communications with the woman via video visitation and phone calls during her incarceration.

Deputies say the woman has since been released and now lives with him.

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There are no criminal charges resulting from this situation because no intimate contact was made with the woman while she was an inmate, deputies say.

Hayes began employment with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in 1999 and has no previous discipline.

"It is heartbreaking to see a twenty-three-year career end in this manner, but the public rightfully expects better from us," said Sheriff DeLoach. "Without exception, the members of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office are held to the highest standards of the Law Enforcement Officer Code of Ethics. In doing so, we promise to keep our private lives unsullied as an example to all, and we recognize our badge as a symbol of public faith."

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