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Port Orange Observer Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 1 year ago

One fired, one resigns from Port Orange Police Department

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Joseph Swetz was fired after a lengthy investigation. Steven Braddock resigned while under investigation for forgery.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

One officer resigned and another was fired from the Port Orange Police Department. The actions became official when an affidavit of separation was signed for each on Jan. 8, by William Proctor, assistant chief of Port Orange Police Department.

Officer fired

Joseph Swetz was fired from the Port Orange Police Department on Dec. 27, after a long disciplinary history that most recently accused him of saying the word “dick” in a briefing meeting, criticizing Chief Tom Grimaldi’s decisions in front of other officers, being sloppy with paperwork, and searching the Internal Affairs database for personal reasons.

Swetz, a former lieutenant, was interviewed in November 2018 after several other officers were asked under oath about his leadership style. Swetz told the investigating officer that “between his military service and police service, profanity is in his vernacular, and he maybe uses a little more of it than others do,” the IA investigation reports. He said he “could have said (‘dick’), but he could not recall specifically.”

Swetz said it was banter, which he described as “peacocking.” He said using the word was “not inappropriate in and of itself, but with the audience, it possibly was.”

Some officers said Swetz had criticized his superiors in front of other officers. Swetz told the investigator that he had never been “insubordinate” or been critical of Grimaldi’s decisions.

“I don’t think I’m negative,” Swetz said. He sometimes made jokes about the process, he said, but not about the command staff members themselves. He sometimes made jokes with the intent to improve morale or soften the impact of negative news, like a lack of training funds. “He described his leadership style as joking, pranking, and keeping things light,” the investigation reported. He said he was “just trying to bring humor” to briefing meetings.

Swetz said he knew he had to be a “mouthpiece for the administration, but his troops have to know that he going to bring them the truth and he is going to stick up for them.”

Some officers said there was nothing wrong with how the shift was operated and that Swetz spent a lot of time on road patrol, which was admirable.

Others said Swetz took a lot of sick leave and missed briefing meetings as a result, spent too much time on road patrol and was behind in administrative duties. He was perceived as sloppy with paperwork, including requests for vacation or evaluations.

Grimaldi returned a voicemail to the Port Orange Observer but did not respond to a later request for responses via email.

Officer resigns

Steven Braddock resigned from the department on Dec. 28 while he is involved in a criminal investigation.

A Jan. 9 letter from the State Attorney’s Office stated that Braddock is accused of forging documents “pertaining to a deed and possibly other legal documents. There are no known allegations of forgery involving police documents.”

 

 

Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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