Sanibel PD officer resigns, claims inaction in sexual harassment claim

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SANIBEL, Fla. – A 30-year officer penned a damning letter of resignation to the chief of the Sanibel Police Department, writing that his “honesty, integrity and judgment” were questioned when he tried to bring attention to an alleged case of sexual harassment.

Kerry Griner said he was accused of provoking the situation when he spoke out against what he felt was the mistreatment of a female officer by two officers. Griner said two lieutenants in the department may have committed a federal crime by initially ignoring the sexual harassment complaint.

“A fellow police officer [had] an obvious sexual harassment situation she felt unable to manage herself,” Griner wrote. “Instead of investigating the sexual harassment, which is mandated by federal law, Lieutenant Thompson and Lieutenant Dalton told me they felt I had ‘inflamed’ and fabricated information regarding the harassment.”

Griner goes on to say the two lieutenants decided “no sexual harassment had occurred” and then placed him as the night supervisor in charge of the two officers he claimed were involved. According to Griner, lieutenants voiced their accusations of him inflaming the situation in front of the woman officer he was trying to help.

“The worst thing you can do is leave the officer who brought forth the allegation of harassment feeling as if they had done something wrong,” Griner wrote.

He said they accused him “with no investigation, no statements taken and no action of any kind” regarding the sexual harassment claim.

Since Griner’s June 27 resignation, the female officer has filed a claim of sexual harassment against at least one male colleague in the city’s police department. The claim was being investigated internally by the Sanibel Police Department, but the agency is now requesting oversight through an independent investigation.

Chief William Tomlinson, Sanibel Police Department
Chief William Tomlinson, Sanibel Police Department

Griner’s resignation comes at a time when people are challenging the so-called “blue wall of silence,” a term that refers to a culture of ignoring corruption or errors in departments of law enforcement. In some cases, officers have expressed fear in raising concerns to their superiors. In Griner’s case, he resigned.

Griner accused Chief William Tomlinson of being complicit in a number of issues he noted in his letter. He said he went to Chief Tomlinson to call attention to the claim about his colleague’s mistreatment after it was ignored.

“Instead of expressing concern about your officer’s well-being, you chose to make an insulting and demeaning comment about veteran officers under your command,” Griner wrote.

Tomlinson said Wednesday that he was not “at liberty” to respond to Griner’s allegation but that his department seriously responds to sexual harassment claims.

“Anyone that’s engaged in it, we take it seriously. We look into it and if there’s anything that needs to be addressed we address it through either discipline or counseling,” Tomlinson said. “There’s always issues internally when you have employees and you address them as they come.”

The department has obtained a third-party attorney to investigate the sexual harassment claim.

Griner said he really tried to help improve the city and police department of Sanibel with his work as a detective in narcotics, general crime and major crime, but began to question the judgement of his superiors. Griner said the department was inconsistent with its rules, for example, allowing officers to speed for traffic infractions but not felony crimes.

“The leadership in this department questioned my integrity and judgement, but the same people questioning me have repeatedly shown poor judgement and knowledge of the law themselves,” Griner wrote.

He then gave an example that he said “could cost [the city] dearly.” Griner said he submitted his resignation on June 13 before the internal investigation into the sexual harassment case was opened.

A request for public record was sent to the Sanibel Police Department.

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