OC Sheriff Accused of Under-Reporting Thefts
A lawsuit has brought forth allegations that the Orange County Sheriff has released incorrect crime data when he reported fewer burglaries than those that actually occurred. The under-reporting was especially an issue at hotels near Disney World. The lawsuit implies that the OC Sheriff’s actions were based on an attempt to be politically correct and possibly increase tourism to the area. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) collects and organizes the crime data.
The sheriff responded by claiming that the lawsuit was ludicrous and founded on untrue charges against him by a political opponent who only wants to discredit him. He insists he does not want to present a false image of the statistics.
A watchdog agency filed the lawsuit in state circuit court. The group is run by a local attorney who happens to be a member of the opposite political party from the sheriff. The chairman would not disclose where the agency gets its funding or who he backs for sheriff.
A former member of the sheriff’s office said he has heard the accusations of underreporting. However, he does not belong to the agency that initiated the charges but said that some of his followers do.
The accusers have submitted proof about the allegations, including copies of emails and notes from a meeting. This data directed workers to group property crimes separately from burglaries unless law enforcement records showed specific evidence of a break-in.
In some cases, hotel workers could have committed some of the crimes and used a key to gain admittance to hotel rooms at Disney World. Some crimes include the theft of cash and other valuables. These crimes are not categorized as burglaries.
The lawsuit does not look for any type of financial compensation. The agency requested official records and documents from the Sheriff’s Office in June. The lawsuit has restated that request.