Fired GPD officer could face more discipline
Published: Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 5:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 5:40 p.m.
A Gainesville police officer who was fired in June for having an intimate relationship with a man with a criminal past who was under investigation for drug dealing and for improperly accessing police databases could face additional disciplinary action.
Safiya Rim was fired after an internal investigation into policy violations based on interviews of her by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
"The FDLE investigation is ongoing," GPD officer Ben Tobias said. "The same day FDLE notified us of an investigation and briefed us on it, she was suspended, which ultimately resulted in her termination. As soon as we learned she was doing something that was either illegal or was going to hurt the department, we took action immediately."
The GPD internal report states that Rim was intimately involved with Alonzo Lavelle Strawder, who at the time was under a drug investigation but is currently in the Alachua County jail with bond set at $700,000.
Strawder was arrested in April on charges of cocaine trafficking and racketeering. Additional charges for money laundering and fraud were filed July 30. He has a criminal record dating from 1999 for cases including drugs, burglary and battery.
Authorities began to suspect Rim's involvement through their investigation of Strawder and his associates.
The GPD internal investigation report states that Rim was interviewed by FDLE officers and admitted to being intimately involved with Strawder, saying they would meet at the Morningside Nature Center while she was on-duty and at two local hotels when she was off-duty.
GPD determined that was in violation of policies regarding associating with known offenders or people of questionable reputation, and with immoral, unlawful or improper conduct that could affect the officer's job.
Rim used her police equipment to access the National Crime and Information Center/Florida Crime and Information Center databases to run queries on Strawder and another man under investigation, which is in violation of GPD policies.
She also used the Driver and Vehicle Information Database to access information about her husband, the report states. That is also against GPD policy.
An allegation against Rim involving the taking of a cellphone was not sustained.
A cellphone belonging to a Hispanic man arrested on a shoplifting charge that was given to Rim for placement into custody was later found to be in use by a non-Hispanic associate of Strawder. However, the cellphone owner is out of the country, so it could not be learned if his cellphone was returned to him after he was released.
FDLE spokesman Steve Arthur said a disciplinary case against Rim is pending.