The message of North Port Chief of Police Kevin Vespia states, “Our citizens expect and deserve that their police officers will act with honor and integrity at all times.” Well it seems they are not, not by any stretch of the imagination. The City of North Port, Florida and the North Port Police Department (NPPD) have a major and growing scandal on their collective hands.
WWSB ABC Channel 7 reports, “Since we first reported the ongoing scandal involving sexual assault at a party attended by on- and off-duty North Port police officers, multiple people have come forward with stories about previous wild parties involving members of the department. One of these people is a former law enforcement officer here on the Suncoast, and while he wasn’t at the party the night of the alleged assault, he says he has been to several other similar parties hosted and attended by North Port cops where things got out of hand.”
Bill Warner, a Sarasota private investigator, posted a column on his blog titled “Told You So Sarasota: NPPD Swinger Parties With Drugs Headed Up By 3 Way Sex Cop Melanie Turner.” North Port resident Sherry Smart, after reading Warner’s article, sent an email to the City Commissioners. Smart states, “3 Way Sex Cop…. what a great tag line for North Port. Perhaps we would get more visitors to our ‘esteemed’ city with that for our city motto instead of ‘the city where you can achieve anything’… but then again perhaps those are interchangeable like our police officers at sex parties?”
Smart notes, “The article does not elude [sic] to a ONE time event. Good officers (those who don’t do 3 ways with their peers) would be fearful to expose this behavior. They would be fearful of repercussions from those who do not wish to be exposed… or rather, found out. (Exposure doesn’t seem to bother them). Because we now have an officer who has committed suicide rather than go to court and eventually jail, this leads one to question…. what else was there that he didn’t want to come to light and with this dire action, he thought would die with him? So what’s the percentage of exposure — 10%? with another 90% hidden within the department?”
It has been reported by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that North Port Vice-Mayor Rhonda Y. DiFranco’s female domestic partner is Jennifer S. Cohen. DiFranco, Cohen and former Sarasota City Commissioner Ken Sheilan (who is a homosexual) were the force and faces behind the effort to approve a domestic partner registry in North Port. Vice Mayor DiFranco is the City Commission’s liaison to the North Port Police Department. DiFranco is also a retired Sarasota County Deputy Sheriff.
Smart concludes with, “Houston we have a problem. (Stating the obvious here) So now what are you going to do about it? I do have some thoughts on how to go about routing [sic] out the rotten roots. Am waiting expectantly to hear your thoughts.”
If Smart receives a reply we will post an update to this column. The following questions have been sent to all of the City Commissioners:
1. Who hired Officer Melanie Turner and when?
2. Did the department do a background check on Officer Turner?
3. Did the department know Officer Turner was a lesbian?
4. If so, was this not a red flag to the department?