Davie, FL- Police Chief Dale Engle sent a letter to the town of Davie last week informing town officials that he will retire on Sept 3. Three months ago, Engle was placed on paid administrative leave shortly after a complaint was filed against him. He will continue to collect a paycheck and keep his benefits, even though won’t be working until his retirement date.
The Davie police chief is accused of saying Broward sheriff’s deputy Shannon Bennett died of COVID-19 because he was gay. Engle added that Bennett had an underlying disease which aggravated the COVID-19 infection, and that Bennett contracted the disease because he was “a homosexual who attended homosexual events”
“We think it’s the right decision,” said Lisa Boeving-Learned, a member of the Ethical Society of Police and a retired Tampa Police Department sergeant. “We are not in a position to comment about the investigation, but … multiple police officers confirmed what they heard. It’s shameful that an officer that died of COVID-19 was smeared like that by their leader.” Engle initially denied making the remark.
Four days after the 39-year-old Bennett died on April 3, Engle allegedly yelled at Davie police employees that their concerns about the spread of the virus were “baseless” and that Bennett’s death was caused by his “homosexual lifestyle,” according to a letter sent to Davie administrator Richard Lemack from the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council Committee.
“Chief Engle’s actions constitute a hostile work environment and warrant an immediate and thorough investigation,” the committee’s chief of staff, Mike Tucker, said in the letter.
In a subsequent email, the former chief confirmed addressing the department’s members about Bennett’s death, but said his comments “were not intended to be derogatory,” the Miami Herald reported.
In the aftermath of the incident, Engle was put on administrative leave pending an investigation into his alleged remarks and Lemack appointed former Davie Police Chief Patrick Lynn as acting chief.
The investigation is ongoing, officials said this week.
Engle told the Sun Sentinel that he was not pressured to retire by town officials and came to the decision after his children received derogatory messages on social media.