Coming to a PD Near You: Violent “Gypsy Cops”
March 2, 2017 (Fault Lines) — Is there something that’s more dangerous, that looks worse for America’s law enforcement, than when it plays the dangerous shell game of “gypsy cops,” in which officers who’ve committed serious offenses against the citizenry are allowed to simply pack their guns and badges, only to then be re-hired by another police department down the road?
Well, yes, by all means. A greater stench accrues when that rogue officer, the repeat offender against those he has sworn to protect and serve, is kept within one department after he’s been shunned by several others for decades, thereby enabling him to terrorize new victims for years. It’s when the same department ignores every red flag, every complaint, every cry for help, and keeps that predatory cop on the force.
If the allegations in the lawsuits filed by two anonymous women against veteran police officer Charles Hoeffer are true, that’s exactly what happened in Florida’s Palm Beach Shores Police Department. From the Courthouse News Service:
In March 2014, she claims, Hoeffer starting making lewd comments when he visited the plaintiff to return an item that she had reported lost. He returned a few hours later and invited himself into her home in uniform, at which point he “pushed his police issued firearm into [her] body, pulled out his penis” and demanded oral sex from her, the lawsuit says.
“The more [the plaintiff] resisted Hoeffer’s sexual attempts, the more aggressive he became,” the lawsuit alleges. “Hoeffer grabbed [her] by the legs, rubbed her left leg against his department issued firearm, as a show of force and intimidation, and vaginally penetrated [her].” [emphasis added]
In August 2013, Hoeffer allegedly asked the second plaintiff to meet up for coffee to talk about her domestic discord. She got into his vehicle, and he drove her to a deserted location, where he began groping her and trying to kiss her as she struggled to fend him off, the lawsuit says.
In another instance, twenty minutes after the second plaintiff encountered Hoeffer at the Palm Beach Shores station to file a report about her husband, Hoeffer showed up at her home and made more aggressive, unwanted sexual advances, she claims.
This sounds like a sick, nefarious version of Pepé Le Pew, except that the bête in this case is carrying a badge and a gun, and is backed up by an employer who won’t can’t see or hear no evil. Officer Hoeffer’s criminal actions are anathema to the “to protect and serve” credo. But no matter how desensitized our populace has become to stories of police misconduct, it’s nonetheless shocking — and insulting — that Hoeffer was placed on paid vacation leave after the first incident in March of 2014.
Hoeffer’s string of assault allegations go back to the 1980s, when he was employed by the Delray Beach Police Department. In 1987, he shattered his second wife’s nose with his boot. Later, he was accused of harassing his wife despite being ordered not to. The lawsuit also points out how Hoeffer sexually harassed female dispatchers. It seems that this animal diversified when it came to the places and subjects of his abuses.
After that, Hoeffer racked up quite the resume for his future employers, as even a cursory Google search reveals he’s been the subject of multiple sexual assault investigations. Only to be re-hired, time and time again. For shame, as it doesn’t take a criminal charge or conviction to prevent a police officer from being hired in Florida.
By way of background, the town of Palm Beach Shores is one of the country’s most exclusive and ritzy places to live. It used to be where one Bernie Madoff would come home to hang his hat, before he became a permanent resident of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. About an hour south is the equally affluent city of Golden Beach, where in 2012 a gypsy cop named Omar Paez was the subject of a scandal involving sexual assault, kidnapping, and violence.
Paez had previously been booted by the Miami Police Department for misconduct, only to find a welcoming host at the Golden Beach Police Department. Cases like Paez’s and Hoeffer’s show that flagrant police abuses are not generally restricted to “urban” places in America.
Even the most privileged, those who spend the equivalent of your annual salary on one month’s association fees, are considered “fair game” by those predatory cops who find shelter with their city’s constable. And the conduct in this case was repetitive, occurring inside the victim’s home at times. As K.S.’s lawsuit alleges, Hoeffer had the gall to return to her home about a month after the first rape, only to commit a second sexual assault.
The re-hiring and recycling of an officer like Hoeffer within the same police department is a disgrace. These allegations paint Hoeffer as a sick predator who’s obviously undeterred by admonishment, regardless of where it comes from, and no matter how hard the slap on his wrist.
Whatever the reasons why he was kept on board, a mutt like Hoeffer was given free rein to abuse his position of power, in spades, while on the taxpayer’s dime and time. What should be alarming is that an “officer” like Hoeffer may be coming to a police department near you, where he will be given aid and comfort by his bosses while he goes on an unhinged crime spree.