An officer with the Orlando Police Department who was fired last year after receiving over two dozen citizen complaints, as well as being the subject of an internal affairs investigation, was rehired by the department this month in an arbitration deal.
The officer, Michael Favorit Jr., 29, was reinstated and reassigned to work at the Orlando International Airport, where officers who are “too often in the limelight” are sent, according to Orlando Police Chief John Mina.
“I thought it was in the best interest of [the officers] and the department,” Mina told the Orlando Sentinel. “They’re going to be scrutinized for every action they do,” adding that the airport job takes place “in less of an enforcement and more of a customer service atmosphere.”
The list of public complaints about Favorit is lengthy, including a 2013 complaint from Donta Coffie, who was thrown the ground and pepper sprayed by Favorit and another officer for riding his bike with one hand on the handlebars. The man was arrested for failure to follow police commands and charged with resisting arrest without violence. While the charge was later dismissed due to a lack of evidence, Coffie was still issued a ticket for his highly dangerous bicycle stunt.
“Some of them are very minor, and some of them were found to have not been accurate […] but I do believe the amount of complaints is concerning,” Mina said.
The police chief went on to say that, per the collective bargaining agreement between the department and the police union representing Orlando PD officers, past incidents must not influence the review process when considering different, more recent violations. That is, in part, how Favorit could be rehired after so many problems on the job.
Retired police officer and criminal justice professor at the University of New Haven, John DeCarlo, after reviewing some of the complaints lodged against Favorit told the Orlando Sentinel the officer “obviously has a bad attitude.”
“I’m wondering ‘How did this guy slip through the cracks?’” DeCarlo said.
In another incident in 2013, after Favorit and another officer were called to investigate a burglary at a local convenience store, Favorit was caught on tape folding the alarm notice into a paper airplane and tossing it out the window of the squad car before the officers leave the scene, thinking it was a false alarm.
It was later discovered there was indeed a burglary that night, with the thieves entering the building through the roof and making off with $3,500 worth of inventory. Favorit’s supervisor noted the burglars’ entry point would have been obvious had the officers actually taken a moment to look around the premises.
Neither complaint resulted in disciplinary action for Favorit or the other officers involved. Favorit’s termination only came after he and another officer, Frederick Rolle, attempted to cover up an unauthorized police chase in December 2015.
The officers didn’t use their squad car’s lights or sirens while pursuing the suspect, nor did they inform dispatchers of the chase. Later, Rolle and Favorit reported the vehicle stolen and drove it to a nearby liquor store, what amounts to severe evidence-tampering.
Both officers appealed their termination and were rehired after an arbitration process.
“The city and officers tentatively agreed to settle the arbitration by reinstating the officers to duty,” the Orlando Police Department said in a statement. “Both parties agreed to a total of 248 hours of suspension in lieu of termination for the offenses they were sustained on. The officers will retain their seniority; however, they will not be given back pay.”
Favorit and Rolle were both required to undergo additional training before they could return to duty.
Another officer, William Escobar, was also rehired to the department in November 2016 after he was terminated for punching and kicking a handcuffed suspect. Though video footage captured Escobar’s use of excessive force, the officer said the allegations against him were “unproven” and was acquitted of misdemeanor battery and perjury charges related to the case last year.
It seems rehiring officers is a trend with the Orlando PD in the last several years, as yet another fired cop, Janir Sims, was given back his job in April 2015. Sims was initially terminated for acting aggressively when he was pulled over while off duty. Sims repeatedly reached out to Antonio Volta, a tow truck driver and a witness of Sims’ traffic stop, even after he was explicitly ordered to refrain from speaking to witnesses.
The phenomenon on display at the Orlando PD is not uncommon; police unions and arbitrators have been criticized for their role in reinstating abusive officers and skirting accountability for police misconduct. While surely some reinstatements are justified, all too often corrupt or violent cops—determined by their commanding officers to be unfit to carry a badge and a gun—are put back on the street.
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Contributed by Will Porter of The Daily Sheeple.