A field training deputy for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has been suspended 20 days after, among other things, his recruits noticed he often slept in the passenger side of his patrol vehicle, sometimes as often as three times per shift.
Deputy Jason Walker’s suspension will be spread out over three months and will begin in October, according to a memorandum released Wednesday.
Walker will also no longer serve as a field training deputy.
According to the memorandum, between Jan. 18 and May 18, four of the seven deputy recruits assigned to Walker spotted him sleeping anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes at a time. One recruit told Internal Affairs investigators this occurred 11 out of 13 shifts and as frequently as one to three times a shift, the memorandum said.
One recruit said Walker was often asleep in the passenger seat during traffic stops, and it seemed the only thing that woke him up was when the recruit slammed his driver’s side door shut, the memorandum said.
Walker admitted to sleeping on duty but he didn’t think it was to the extent described by the recruits, the memorandum said. Sometimes, Walker said, he was merely closing his eyes.
In 2011, Walker was given a written reprimand after he was found asleep in his patrol vehicle after he took up a position in a dragnet as a police dog was tracking a burglary suspect, the memorandum said.
This year, Walker also put himself and a female recruit in “tremendous danger” after he decided not to let her know she had forgotten to put her firearm and stun gun on her duty belt before conducting a traffic stop, the memorandum said. Walker didn’t have his on his belt, either.