Social media page demands deputy's termination from the Indian River County Sheriff's Office

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. - Hundreds of people are demanding the removal of a deputy at the Indian River County Sheriff's Office who just two years ago was named  "officer of the year".

A year ago, Deputy Chris Rodriguez was a narcotics detective but that changed after an internal investigation.  Today he works as a bailiff at the courthouse in Vero Beach.

A Facebook page was created a few weeks ago entitled Remember Your Oath. It has nearly 300 supporters demanding the termination of Deputy Rodriguez.

"I don't see why it's good for us to have him as a law enforcement officer anymore," says Shawn Elliott.

Elliott created the page after reading about the internal investigation on Deputy Rodriguez that began last fall.

"It's a community issue," says Elliott.

The report is nearly 40 pages long.  It states that on one night last October Deputy Rodriguez drove his agency issued vehicle after he drank alcohol. However, Sheriff Deryl Loar says they couldn't verify how much he drank before he got inside his car.

"Lack of independent witnesses that would come up and testify and say this is how much he had to drink," says Sheriff Loar.

The investigation then expanded. 

It found 43 Vicodin pills inside his patrol car. The report quotes Rodriguez who couldn't explain why it was there.  The Sheriff says they never found a definitive answer.

"If I don't have 100% facts of what an employee has done I don't think it's a good business or good practice to go to an extreme," says Sheriff Loar.

Then there are issues with a photo line-up.

"That's probably one of the most disturbing that in my opinion should have called for immediate dismissal," says Elliott.

The report quotes Rodriguez as saying he didn't realize it was that bad. The report states the suspect's picture was lighter and stood out.  The photo line-up was used to get a warrant. There were other department violations noted in the report.

"Deputy Rodriguez was given a 240 hour suspension which is the largest suspension in my tenure," says Sheriff Loar.

Elliott wants to know why the deputy wasn't fired. The Sheriff says they looked at Deputy Rodriguez's entire career which spans more than 10 years.

"Deputy Rodriguez is remorseful," says Sheriff Loar, "He understands that he made a poor decision that particular evening. He also understands he made a poor decision in some of his practices."

We requested an interview with Deputy Rodriguez but that was declined.

Sheriff Loar says he stands by his decision and the investigation. Elliott is now contacting state agencies asking them to take a closer look.


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