After a lengthy investigation, Mount Dora's Public Safety Director has been fired. An independent investigator’s report cited numerous concerns gleaned after interviewing over 40 Mount Dora police officers of various ranks, plus a number of civilian City employees and O'Grady.
“The investigation concluded that there was overwhelming evidence of a department fraught with distrust and a lack of respect for O’Grady’s leadership. It also concluded that O’Grady engaged in behavior unbecoming a City of Mount Dora employee," said Mount Dora City Attorney Sherry Sutphen in a prepared statement.
Less than 24 hours before the press briefing to announce O'Grady's firing and distribute the completed report, City Manager Robin Hayes stated "The investigation is still on-going." when formally asked if the report was completed. At that time, credible sources were reporting to Mount Dora Buzz the investigation and the report were complete.
The independent investigator, Lindsay Greene of the DSK law firm, submitted a written report dated July 1 that did not find that O’Grady’s behavior reached the threshold of unlawful harassment or discrimination. However, Greene's report stated “there exists a number of issues of concern.”
Among the issues cited in the report are:
Improper policies and procedures
Here are the important issues of concern that Greene highlighted:
ETHICAL CONCERNS In Mount Dora, the police department oversees animal control and code enforcement. During separate interviews, two officers had consistent recollections of O’Grady, 56, taking a lost puppy and giving it to friends and then refusing to return the dog when the owners were located shortly thereafter. Both officers recalled O’Grady wanting them to impose penalties on the owners or find code violations in order to dissuade the owners from seeking the return of their puppy. The incident happened in November of 2017. One of the officers notified Mount Dora City Manager Robin Hayes of the incident in early 2018. Hayes did not follow up with the other officer, launch an investigation or place O’Grady on leave.
IMPROPER POLICIES AND PROCEDURES The report stated an overwhelming number of police officers interviewed said O’Grady told them that he implemented traffic stop mandates (often referred to as quotas) in order to argue for a greater need for funding. According to the report, officers felt they were being directed to stop citizens for petty offenses in order to meet the mandate.
On another matter, O’Grady did not notify the Human Resources Department or the CIty Attorney when a female officer made a harassment complaint against her supervisor, Sergeant Keith Taylor. Taylor resigned from Mount Dora Police Department last month after he was investigated again for inappropriate behavior toward another female employee.
The report also stated a major change to allow minors to participate in the MDPD’s Ride-Along program was implemented by O’Grady to help a friend’s high school son. Although the change affects the city’s legal liability, it was never discussed with the city’s risk management professional or the city attorney.
FAVORITISM The report stated that almost all of the commanders confirmed O’Grady showed favoritism with employees. At least one employee was allowed to abuse sick time and O’Grady encouraged her supervisor to alter her evaluation.
INSENSITIVE COMMENTS The report cited that “an overwhelming number of employees interviewed believe O’Grady gets pleasure out of making employees uncomfortable and often makes a comment at their expense.” Greene also points out that even individuals in the department whom O’Grady identified as favorable said he “routinely makes ‘unnecessary’ comments.” Those individuals “overwhelmingly agreed that many of his comments are not ‘Chief like’ and do not serve to elevate officers.”
Former Mount Dora Police Officer, Francis Smith, the well-respected Student Resource Officer for Mount Dora High School, had also filed a detailed complaint against O’Grady. It was not referenced in the investigator's report, although Smith was interviewed. He alleges he was intimidated by O’Grady after filing his whistle-blower complaint and was subsequently handed a pre-written letter of resignation with non-disclosure requirements to sign last year. Hayes did not provide the answer when asked who prepared the letter that Smith signed.
Assistant Mount Dora Police Chief Robert Bell has been Acting Police Chief since O’Grady was placed on paid leave on April 18 pending the outcome of the investigation. Now that O’Grady has been terminated, Bell will remain in the role of Acting Chief until a formal search is complete.
O’Grady was hired as Mount Dora’s Police Chief over 5 years ago after 26 years at the Orlando Police Department. In 2017, Hayes promoted him to Public Safety Director which includes oversight of the City’s Fire Department. Sign up for the free Mount Dora Buzz' monthly updates here.For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download the area's free mobile app.