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Pinellas County Jail struggles with recurring issue of detention deputies video streaming on duty

29 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

Additional instances of Pinellas County jail deputies watching videos on the job, despite increased penalties by Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

Pinellas County Jail struggles with recurring issue of detention deputies video streaming on duty - Inmate Lookup

Pinellas County Jail deputies have been discovered streaming video activities during duty hours, as revealed in records obtained by the news outlet, 10 Investigates, from the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri increased the penalty for detention deputies streaming videos in jail two weeks after the initial investigation by 10 Investigates into distracted detention deputies last year.

Despite this, an internal investigation uncovered that Detention Deputy Brandon Wilson continued watching videos of partially nude women while on duty overseeing individuals serving jail time.

In August, an IT customer support tech from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office reported observing Deputy Wilson viewing inappropriate videos and images of women posing in lingerie.

During a recorded audio interview, Deputy Wilson acknowledged viewing content he categorized as inappropriate videos, describing them as material he was not supposed to be watching, specifically featuring females in various states of undress.

Following the internal investigation, the sheriff’s office imposed a 160-hour suspension on Deputy Wilson, adhering to the new minimum penalty instituted after the previous investigation exposed instances of deputies being distracted on the job.

In October, another detention deputy, Vonda Noel, voluntarily resigned while being investigated, as indicated in an internal memo. The accusation against her involved spending three hours watching YouTube during her shift on the job.

Chief Cornita Riley, a Florida jail expert and former Chief of Orange County Corrections, expressed disappointment over these incidents, emphasizing the potential risk to inmates and the responsibility of those in custody.

Last year, 10 Investigates reported on five Pinellas County jail deputies caught watching Netflix, browsing YouTube, and reading during their shifts. Surveillance footage depicted two deputies watching Netflix while an inmate, Robert Leutzinger, suffered from a medical emergency in his cell. The inmate vomited blood for hours unattended.

In December 2022, Sheriff Gualtieri issued an email to inform all Department of Detention and Corrections employees about an amendment in the penalties for streaming videos on the job. The change involved an increase in penalties for violators.

The email, which included a link to 10 Investigates’ story, outlined a minimum 160-hour suspension for substantiated Level 5 policy violations. This discipline is four times more severe than what was reported in November 2022.

Sheriff Gualtieri deemed the situation “embarrassing” to the agency and expressed frustration, emphasizing the steps taken to prevent such behavior.

According to Chief Riley, the clarity of the sheriff’s intentions and values is apparent in each line of the memorandum he issued.



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