PORT ST. JOE, Fla. - The Gulf County Sheriff's Office has found itself in the midst of a scandal after a woman filed a misconduct complaint against a deputy. The sheriff's office has since taken action.
Vera O'Reilly claimed that she and Deputy Brian Smith had recently ended a five-month online relationship. According to Ms. O'Reilly, Deputy Smith was scheduled to fly to Canada to visit her last month, and she became concerned that Smith would still come with poor intentions, causing her to file the complaint.
O'Reilly provided Sheriff Harrison with pictures, videos, and screenshots of text messages from her communications with Smith.
"I reviewed over it, and there was nothing rose to the level of a crime that had been committed. There were policy violations. We brought him in here and talked to him and verbally reprimanded him about his use of time while he was on duty," said Sheriff Harrison.
It was found that Smith was doing a substantial amount of communication on-duty, but none of the pornographic material contained any evidence it was sent during patrol hours. Smith was then placed on a specific shift under close investigation.
"After we had taken corrective action there, we were notified that all this info had gone public," said Sheriff Harrison.
O'Reilly had also been working with a police abuse website representative and posted the content online.
"There was another image that we uncovered on that secondary information. He was making an inappropriate sexual gesture while in uniform while in a county facility, and that was the tipping point there. That was why we put him on administrative leave," said Sheriff Harrison.
Hours later, Smith called and resigned, effective immediately.
"It's three and a half weeks ago. We've brushed ourselves off. We're going to continue to serve the people with a professional agency that they can be proud of. We've already replaced his position and are moving forward," said Sheriff Harrison.
Smith declined to comment on the situation.
Smith's resignation while under investigation has been reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The FDLE will make it's own determination on where to go from there.
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