State to Investigate St. Augustine Beach Police Department | News

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State to Investigate St. Augustine Beach Police Department

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. -- A standing room only crowd packed the St. Augustine Beach City Commission chambers Tuesday afternoon.

A special meeting was called to discuss what to do with a 50-page complaint which alleges wrongdoings at the St. Augustine Beach Police Department.

Ten of the 13 St. Augustine Beach police officers initialed the bottom of the report, which asks for the Assistant Chief and the Police Chief's resignation.

Mayor Gary Snodgrass suggested an outside agency investigate, stating.

"I believe the Florida Department of Law Enforcement should be engaged to conduct a thorough investigation," Snodgrass said.

Commissioners unanimously voted for state investigators to look at the accusations, ranging from missing equipment and documents to administrative missteps.

As Police Chief Richard Hedges watched, commissioners also voted to place him on administrative leave with pay, starting Wednesday.

They also voted to have St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar assign a member of his staff to assist with the leadership of St. Augustine Beach's Police Department temporarily.

After the meeting, as Chief Hedges left, he told First Coast News, "I'm forbidden by city policy to say anything."

First Coast News asked him, "But would you like to say anything?" He responded, "There's a lot I would like to say," and calmly left the room.

Hedges' attorney, Patrick Canan, said the complaint stunned the chief.

"He definitely believes it's unfounded and that he will be cleared. It's critical to him that his name is cleared," Canan explained. "He welcomes the investigation."

Mike Scudiero from Coastal Florida Public Employees Association -- which represents the police officers -- said the accusations speak for themselves.

"When it's all said and done, the chief and assistant chief will have a lot of things to answer to," Scudiero said.

Mayor Snodgrass said the FDLE told him a team from Tallahassee could start investigating this week.

After the meeting, parties on both sides of the controversy did agree that commissioners did the right thing by bringing in state investigators.


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