Broward News

Broward Cop Remains on Job Despite Ten Sustained Complaints and Six Recommended Suspensions

To workaday folks who punch time cards and get written up for infractions, it may seem surprising that a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy can have complaints against him sustained ten times, and be recommended for suspension six times, yet still remain on the force. But that's the case with Jason Dorsett. 

Dorsett's career came into focus because Gary Kollin, a civil rights attorney in Fort Lauderdale, is currently suing BSO and Dorsett for wrongful arrest based on an incident in Parkland on April 11, 2013. Kollin had called police for help with a domestic situation, but then he himself ended up handcuffed and in the back of a cop car.  Ultimately Kollin was not charged. In 2014, investigators found that Dorsett had failed to write a police report after the incident. Dorsett received counseling.

Dorsett has had quite a history with Internal Affairs since joining the department in 2006. In ten of 11 investigations of Dorsett, complaints were sustained and investigators recommended he be disciplined in some form. On six different occasions, supervisors recommended he be suspended. (Documents provided by BSO are unclear as to whether he actually served all of those suspensions.) 

Dorsett, who is originally from Westchester County, New York, missed at least six mandatory court appearances — and one deposition — for which he was called to testify. In one instance, Dorsett, who had been injured at work and taken medical leave, claimed to have told a court liaison named “Denise” that he could not make it to a 2010 deposition. After the deposition was rescheduled, Dorsett claimed, again, that he told the court he could not make it to the new meeting. But an investigator found that there was no record of Dorsett contacting the court either time, and that no “Denise” worked in the office he said he contacted. (Records show Dorsett had been injured on the job in May 2010, and gone out on medical leave.)

The deputy was found to have failed to file police reports after arresting suspects or responding to distress calls. In one instance, investigators found that Dorsett left the scene of a car accident in which a man had hit a tree and injured his hand. Dorsett also failed to write a crash report afterward, and supervisors recommended he be suspended for 10 days.

In another case, Dorsett neglected to file a report for a crack-cocaine arrest or turn any drug evidence into the crime lab, leading to the defendant’s charges being dropped. Investigators said Dorsett was unable to locate the missing drugs. They recommended a suspension.

In December of 2007, a Deerfield woman called the police to complain that Dorsett had seized $396 when he arrested her. She claimed Dorsett had promised to give the money back when she was released from jail, but said the pair had been unable to set up a time to meet. After Dorsett called her again in January 2008, she alerted the police, and Dorsett finally gave the money to the evidence unit, roughly six weeks after it had been seized. Dorsett later told Internal Affairs that he was just trying to be a “nice guy” and keep her money safe.

Dorsett was accused of fracturing the wrist of a 13-year-old, 105-pound girl while handcuffing her in 2011. Though Internal Affairs deemed a complaint by the girl’s mother, Susana Sethi, “not sustained,” medical records show the girl was diagnosed with a sprained wrist the day after her arrest. Nine days after the incident, the girl sought care again for the same injury, and found out her growth plate had been fractured.

In every case except the 13-year-old’s arrest, Internal Affairs found that Dorsett had violated police policy. In addition to the proposed suspensions, Internal Affairs has recommended written reprimands twice, and recommended he be counseled on departmental procedures twice.

As of February 2015, Dorsett made $69,271 and served on the burglary apprehension team. BSO spokesperson Keyla Concepción said via email that in deciding whether to terminate on officer, “BSO would evaluate an employee’s entire disciplinary folder to determine if the incidents rise to the level of termination.” Dorsett’s personnel file is filled with more than a dozen commendations from civilians. In January of 2013, while working in Parkland, Dorsett was named Employee of the Month.

Michael Piper, attorney for both Dorsett and the sheriff’s office, said that while Dorsett’s Internal Affairs records might “make for a good story,” Dorsett’s past has “absolutely nothing to do with anything involving this incident with Mr. Kollin.”

“I know attorney Kollin,” Piper added, “and he is certainly a contentious individual. It appears that he’s no stranger to melodrama, either."

Dorsett, through his lawyer, declined to comment for this story.

Kollin’s suit comes at a time when police departments across the country face increased scrutiny for the ways in which they deal with the public, apply physical force, and discipline problem officers. In November of last year, an Illinois court forced the Chicago Police Department to release thousands of complaint records. After analyzing that data, the New York Times found that from 2011 to 2015, 97 percent of more than 28,500 citizen complaints resulted in no officer being punished.

Phil Sweeting, a Boca Raton law enforcement consultant, said departments often stop short of disciplining or firing cops in order to protect themselves from lawsuits. If an internal investigation finds that a cop wrongfully used force, Sweeting said, that decision could become grounds for a lawsuit.

Sweeting said the 11 complaints against Dorsett are “seemingly a high number.”

In general, Sweeting said, Internal Affairs investigators hate dealing with individuals who face repeated complaints: “These guys are typically a pain in the ass to them.” 
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Jerry Iannelli is a staff writer for Miami New Times. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. He moved to South Florida in 2015.
Contact: Jerry Iannelli