A Port St. Lucie Police sergeant has been arrested and placed on unpaid leave.
Sgt. Timothy Petronico was arrested Thursday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Petronico had an active restraining order against him preventing him from owning or possessing a firearm while off duty.
In December, the Port St. Lucie department learned that Petronico was in possession of a firearm and placed him on paid administrative leave, while FDLE conducted a criminal investigation.
The department placed Petronico on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation following his arrest.
"There’s no ability, there’s no unit, no agency that goes out and checks to see if someone is violating the terms of their injunction, or terms of their restraining order."
That's attorney Elizabeth Parker referring to Florida law and domestic violence injunctions.
Injunctions like the one Port St. Lucie Timothy Petronico had.
"There’s no specific location that anybody has to give their weapon to, turn it in and get it tracked and logged," said Parker.
Petronico, 49, was hired by the department in 2004 and was promoted to sergeant in 2015.
The injunction does/did not prohibit him from possessing a firearm while on duty.
Jennifer rey works closely with domestic violence victims in Palm Beach County every day.
She says that law disturbs some victims.
"I think that’s a deterrent for victims of domestic violence who are in relationships with or previous relationship with law enforcement because they’re concerned it doesn’t really matter if I were to get this injunction for protection. They still have access to the firearm when they are on duty and could still be a major risk to them. A lot of times we find those survivors are not even asking for that protection, they are just forgoing that option," said Rey.
"It certainly goes against the purpose of having an injunction, because anyone and we’ve seen these cases time and time again, law enforcement officer even on duty doesn’t restrict him violating the injunction if he or she wish," said Parker.
Rey says departments need to look into whether it's smart to have an officer with an injunction have access to a gun.
"I’m not trying to prevent anybody from making their income and supporting themselves and doing their job. Is it maybe something that can be done internally, can that person get a different duty, be re-considered as someone who needs a firearm," said Rey.
We've asked Port St. Lucie when the domestic violence injunction was approved, either before Petronico was hired, or during his time as an officer. They haven't answered us.