Pinellas Park Cops Pocketed Hurricane Relief Supplies

Pinellas Park, Fla. (970 WFLA) - Two officers resigned and seven others got a verbal reprimand for bringing home relief supplies intended for Hurricane Michael victims. 

A news release from Pinellas Park Police says a crew of 12 it sent to the Panhandle had worked with a non-profit relief organization called Operation BBQ Rescue to distribute supplies to people in Bay County in October. BBQ Rescue said that it intended to shut down, and needed the leftover supplies disposed of, and officers brought some of them home with them.

An inquiry began after the department administration learned that Sgt. Michael Griffiths "had returned from the deployment with a significant quantity of meals ready to eat (MREs)." The probe determined that numerous team members had brought home relief supplies intended for hurricane victims.

The officers did not steal the items, but that did not matter to Police Chief Michael Haworth. "Despite permission to do so, the  authorization and removal of disaster relief supplies from a storm damaged area was a poor judgement call made by our supervisory team members," the news release quoted Haworth as saying.  "It is  unfortunate that the hard work and aid our agency members provided to Bay County residents on behalf of our city and residents is clouded by this poor decision." 

Griffiths and Lt. Scott Golczewski chose to retire before the investigation concluded, the department said. Seven other department members "received documented verbal counseling for their poor judgement," according to the news release.

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