Florida Officer Sues After Other Officers Allegedly Harass Her For Arrested Another Officer Driving 120 MPH On Way To Off-Duty Job

_h353_w628_m6_otrue_lfalseI ran over a story today from earlier this year that raises some disturbing questions about the ability of some police departments to police themselves. Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Donna Jane Watts has sued over harassment that she encountered after pulling over another officer for speeding. A video shows Watts arresting Miami Police department officer Fausto Lopez after she was able to pull him over for speeding at 120 mph. Lopez promptly explained that he was late for an off-duty job. As a result of the arrest, other officers allegedly harassed Watts for stopping a fellow officer in the commission of a crime.

Watts was on patrol when Lopez blew past her. She was not sure who who behind the wheel and took some seven minutes to stop Lopez. Lopez was in uniform when she found him at the wheel. He then effectively admitted to the criminal act by saying he was heading to an off-duty job. According to the lawsuit, many officers believed that Watts should have then protected a fellow officer from being arrested for the crime. Instead, Watts acted like a real police officer who takes her oath seriously. She arrested Lopez.

What followed the October 2011 arrest, according to the lawsuit, was endless harassment and abuse from fellow officers from prank pizza orders to random cellphone calls to police cars sitting in her cul-de-sac. A public record request found that, over a three-month period, at least 88 law enforcement officers from 25 different agencies accessed Watts’ driver’s license information more than 200 times.

She is now suing both the department and individual officers under the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act, a 1994 law that provides for a penalty of $2,500 for each violation if the information was improperly accessed. The lawsuit however is being challenged under constitutional grounds that police officers cannot be liable for merely accessing the information as long as they don not try to sell it.

Source: MSN

38 thoughts on “Florida Officer Sues After Other Officers Allegedly Harass Her For Arrested Another Officer Driving 120 MPH On Way To Off-Duty Job”

  1. Any officer or supervisor who authorized or looked the other way on this arrest need to be fired. The only way to stop this abuse is to jail officers and/or fire them.

  2. “Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper on Paramilitary Policing From WTO to Occupy Wall Street”

    http://www.democracynow.org/2011/11/17/paramilitary_policing_of_occupy_wall_street

    “There are many compassionate, decent, competent police officers who do a terrific job day in and day out. There are others who are, quote, ‘bad apples.’ What both of them have in common is that they ‘occupy,’ as it were, a system, a structure that itself is rotten. And I am talking about the paramilitary bureaucracy.”

  3. A plague of ‘professional courtesy’

    by Radley Balko

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/02/18/a-plague-of-professional-courtesy/

    “Of course, there’s no way to prove that professional courtesy leads to other corruption. But even if you could prove that it didn’t, it’s a mistake to dismiss cops letting other cops off for speeding or DWI as insignificant in and of itself. Among the linked stories in this post are numerous cases of cops whose pile of courtesies extended by other cops piled up until, eventually, their disregard for the safety of other people on the road resulted in death. That’s anything but inconsequential.”

    Better rein it in.

  4. randyjet @ 9:23 am

    “There needs to be a commission of inquiry established in the county to find out WHO the cops were who did this harassment. Once found, they need to be purged from the force at the very least if not criminally prosecuted.”

    Agreed, randyjet. And they need to be prosecuted, as well, as you note. This is happening much more than people realize. And we need to rein in these behaviors. Those who participated are criminals and need to be held accountable.

  5. Didn’t she see the little black and blue sticker on the officer’s car that marks them as another cop? I spot them all the time.

  6. There needs to be a commission of inquiry established in the county to find out WHO the cops were who did this harassment. Once found, they need to be purged from the force at the very least if not criminally prosecuted. In Houston, when the new police chief, Lee Brown, came on, there was an incident in which cops were drinking on the job and parked in front of the police union headquarters. This was on the graveyard shift and they were drunk enough to come up with no so bright idea of shooting up their office and blame it on the queers. The story unraveled as such things tend to do, and they were all fired. The firing was reversed by the Civil Service Commission of the state. The only cop who stayed fired was a rookie. So this clean-up has to address the corruption in the legislature as well at the bottom.

  7. July 14, 2014. Miami, Cop on Cop fight Video……Enjoy!

    Miami Police Investigating Footage of Lieutenant Fighting Cop at Traffic Stop | Fight Between Miami Police Officer, Lieutenant | Cop Fighting Internal Affairs Lieutenant.

  8. I’m going to just assume that none of the officers that broke policies to misuse law enforcement computers to get her record were punished in a meaningful way.
    Hope she wins.

  9. Rather than sue under the privacy laws, doesn’t the collective actions by the departments and officers rise to some greater breach of civil or criminal law?

  10. I knew a young police officer once who during his first year on the force was manning the radio when a complaint came in about a loud party. The party was at a police officer’s house and a police car had been parked outside for some time. The officer on duty who manned the police car was obviously at the party. Whether he had been drinking or not was irrelevant as the young police officer, when questioned later, admitted that he did not report the incident. He was advised by his superiors not to report the incident.

    The young police officer was dismissed for not doing his duty. If he had reported the party and the officer on duty at the party with his police car, he would have been subject to enough harassment to have made staying on the force impossible. He was a trainee, not a police officer.

    I saw him years later where he was working as a dog catcher at the SPCA. Sometimes you’re dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.

    This female police officer should have the right to sue the @#$&!%s off of everyone in question.

  11. In the title:

    “Florida Officer Sues After Other Officers Allegedly Harass Her For Arrested Another Officer Driving 120 MPH On Way To Off-Duty Job”

    “Arrested” should be “Arresting”

    Thanks for highlighting this story again.

  12. It’s not much different than when a purchased SEC allows banksters to police their own. Those who perform honest and honorable actions are harassed and ridiculed while those who continually flout the law and plunder are considered the golden boys or girls…. I hope this officer finds better treatment in a court of law….

  13. I know women cops who started back in the dark days of the 1970’s. Many women were pressured to be part of the good ol’ boys network. Too many succumbed to it. This woman did not and this harassment is pretty routine. Feminism had a very positive effect on changing the ol’ boys network in medicine. It has failed in law and law enforcement.

  14. Who knows where the vigilante revenge will take them once they are all hauled into court, have to pay for their crimes, hopefully get criminal records and lose their sheltered jobs = sic ’em Donna Jane*!*

  15. Police harass one of their own for enforcing the law but of course she isn’t one of their own. She already had two strikes against her. She is a women and she is on the force. Now it’s three strikes–she actually thinks police officers should follow the law. I hope she wins her law suit!

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