Dale Engle, the chief of police in Davie, Florida, allegedly responded to police employees’ concerns about contracting coronavirus by ordering them into formation in a parking, ordering an inspection, and berating them about raising issues with a homophobic tirade about gay BSO Deputy Shannon Bennett, who is believed to be the first officer to have died from the coronavirus in that state.
Engle’s behavior was brought to the attention of Davie town administrators by Mike Tucker of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
Explained Tucker in a letter to Davie town administrator Richard Lemack: “Engle then proceeded to berate these members about the issues they raised, yelling about their ‘baseless’ concerns. During this, members were shocked when Chief Engle cited the tragic death of BSO Deputy Shannon Bennett who recently succumbed to the COVID-19 virus. Chief Engle allegedly yelled about a ‘backstory’ which proclaimed that Deputy Shannon Bennett contracted and died from the virus because he was a ‘homosexual who attended homosexual <sexual> events’ He intimated that it was because of this homosexual lifestyle that Deputy Bennett first contracted a serious underlying disease which aggravated the COVID-19 virus and lead to his death. His rant continued for some time, with the presumable desired effect of intimidating the members and discouraging any other department employees from complaining or expressing concerns in the future.”
Engle reportedly tried to walk back his remarks in a later email to staff, saying they had been taken out of context.
Towleroad obtained a copy of the letter, which you can read below.
Lemack issued a statement on Saturday saying Engle has been placed on administrative leave: “As of April 11, 2020, Police Chief Dale Engle was placed on Administrative leave pending further review of allegations brought forward by the Fraternal Order of Police. The allegations will be investigated in accordance with the Town’s Equal Employment Opportunity compliance policy by outside counsel. The Town will have no further comment until the investigation is completed to protect the integrity of all involved.”
Local 10 adds: “Bennett, 39, was beloved by his community and by the kids where he was a school resource officer in Deerfield Beach. He’s believed to be the first law enforcement officer in Florida to die from the virus. The Broward Sheriff’s Office said he died ‘in the line of duty.’ … ‘For any reference to be made to the tragic passing of one of our brothers at the Broward Sheriff’s Office is , if true, is absolutely not only unacceptable but is just shameful. And it’s not indicative of the professionals of the Town of Davie that we know,’ said Tucker. Officials said that Engle does deserve due process and there will be an investigation.”
Watch Local 10’s report: