Orlando Police Officer Douglas Bates has been terminated, effective 5 p.m. Oct. 19, 2015 for violating two Department Regulations: Standards of Conduct and Obedience to Laws and Department Procedures.
On June 19, 2015, an inquiry was initiated after it was learned that Officer Bates sent a total of 10 text messages and one photograph to a woman who had received a letter at her home from a person who called himself “Lamont,” stating that she was being watched. Bates learned of this letter from an acquaintance and used that information to place a phone call and send a series of messages to the woman, harming her sense of well-being.
According to OPD regulation RM200-1 Standards of Conduct: “Employees should not engage in any conduct which constitutes neglect of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer or City employee, or any act that is likely to adversely affect the discipline, good order, or reputation of the Department.
Officer Bates received inside information about a note left on the woman’s door and escalated the situation by placing a phone call pretending to be the person who sent the letter and sending numerous text messages. This was further aggravated by the fact that part of this conduct occurred while Bates was working in his official capacity as a police officer. The woman was caused undue anxiety, made arrangements with friends to call 911 if she did not contact them upon arriving home and even borrowed a friend’s Taser for self-protection.
Law enforcement officers are held to a higher standard and this behavior is not tolerated, The oath police officers take is one of protection and service; this investigation unmistakably displays the opposite. Officer Bates was found to have violated this regulation and a discipline of Termination was recommended.
The State Attorney’s Office declined to file stalking charges against Bates because the evidence submitted would be insufficient to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. But in an OPD internal inquiry, the standard of proof is the preponderance of evidence. Because of that, Bates was found to have violated OPD regulation RM200-8 Obedience to Laws and Department Procedures (A) Obedience to Laws.
Orlando Police Officers are trained in ethics and criminal statutes of the State of Florida. The internal investigation found that although Bates’ text messages were not threatening, they were immoral. Stalking, by statutory definition or not, is something that creates fear. The repercussions that could be created by this kind of behavior should have been clear to someone with Bates’ training.