Tampa Police Department's officer of the month was fired then rehired, and the problems continued

TPD officer Algenis Maceo has 18 violations, six of which occurred after he was rehired in 2020 following a scandal.

click to enlarge TPD officers and Councilman Charlie Miranda pose with officer Algenis Maceo (center). - TAMPA POLICE DEPARTMENT
Tampa Police Department
TPD officers and Councilman Charlie Miranda pose with officer Algenis Maceo (center).

Tampa Police Department’s officer of the month has a long history of violations, including some so severe that he was fired in 2019, only to be rehired before violating department policy several more times.

On May 11, Algenis Maceo was named officer of the month at Tampa City Council. He was lauded by police Chief Mary O’Connor, city council members and handed gifts from business leaders from the community for his efforts in “attacking crime” as O’Connor described it.

But documents obtained by Creative Loafing Tampa Bay show that Maceo is yet another example of police officers that get to keep their jobs despite repeatedly exhibiting disturbing behavior.

TPD files show that Maceo has 20 Internal Affairs investigations into his conduct since 2018. Of those investigations, Maceo was charged with 18 violations of department policy. Twelve of those violations occurred before he was fired in 2019, when he was caught up in a major scandal that led to several officers being fired.

In 2019, Maceo was fired after a seven-month TPD investigation found what former Police Chief Brian Dugan called a pattern of bad behavior that included failures to document detentions, searches, and properly disposing of seized drugs.

Documents show that Maceo violated eight department policies at the time. He failed to properly document and record evidence, failed to comply with policies related to search and seizure, resistance to arrest and more.

One report says that Maceo, “failed to properly place contraband located during this stop into the Evidence Control Section.”

The report says that Maceo didn’t submit evidence during multiple drug stops, including one which involved the opiates Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, where Maceo “failed to document what happened to, or even the existence of multiple pill bottles.”

Before these major breaches of conduct, Maceo had four sustained violations, including the violation of emergency operation of police vehicles during pursuits and responding to calls for service. For these violations, he received letters of counseling and written reprimands.

But in July of 2020, after the Police Benevolent Association union argued that Maceo shouldn't be fired, a police arbitrator somehow decided that Maceo’s firing in 2019 was too harsh. He was returned to the force with a 15-day suspension.

A year later, Maceo was caught violating department policy again.

In April of 2021 he violated the operation of department vehicles policy. In July of 2021, he was investigated for violating six more department policies, and five of the charges were upheld. Once again, the charges included evidence issues.

The investigation found that Maceo failed to comply with properly using his body worn camera equipment and failed to submit required reports, which led the IA division to look deeper into his body camera usage.


“A review of his Body Worn Camera history for the entire month of July was conducted and revealed that his Body Worn Camera had been powered completely off on five separate occasions with the most egregious being 4 hours and 41 minutes during his shift,” an IA disciplinary report on Maceo from December of 2021 said.

The report said that Maceo admitted to turning off his camera and “cannot provide reasonable explanations as to why, other than the occasional bathroom breaks which would have fallen in some of these time frames.” He was briefly suspended again before returning to service.

A section of a TPD Internal Affairs report about officer Algenis Maceo. - TAMPA POLICE DEPARTMENT
Tampa Police Department
A section of a TPD Internal Affairs report about officer Algenis Maceo.

After these 18 violations, Maceo wasn’t placed on desk duty, as is often the case with officers who continually screw up.

Instead, he’s patrolling the streets, still looking for drugs and firearms. And he’s being rewarded for it.

“He's constantly seeking out criminal activity within the city of Tampa and most importantly looking for ways to prevent violent crime,” Chief O’ Connor told city council when presenting Maceo with his officer of the month award. “As you all know, we are committed to reducing violent crime in our community. And officer Maceo is a fine example of Tampa Police officers that do this every day.”

It's unclear who exactly selected Maceo as officer of the month, but traditionally, the police executive board chooses the officer, with the police chief having the power to veto the decision.

O’Connor, who was fired then rehired after assaulting a law enforcement officer early on in her career at TPD, continued that Maceo believes one way of doing his job so effectively is by apprehending violent criminals and recovering firearms and narcotics.

“Officer Maceo focuses his efforts daily and in a targeted fashion by proactively conducting traffic stops and other proactive activity in the hotspots where violent crime and the most firearms have recently been,” O’Connor said.

The police chief shared details of an instance where Maceo performed a vehicle search that “revealed a loaded 40 caliber firearm and 12 baggies of marijuana weighing over 50 grams.”

O’Connor said that Maceo has been “attacking” crime in District 2, which includes the Busch Gardens area and the area around the University of South Florida. Both of these areas have a large Black population. The district also includes other parts of North Tampa, and where exactly Maceo patrols was not immediately clear.

“Tampa is the best city in the world and honestly I'm glad I could do my part to make it safer for me and my family and everyone that lives here,” Maceo said.

When Maceo was fired in 2019, then Police Chief Brian Dugan said that Maceo and others had in fact damaged the community’s trust in local law enforcement.

"They have embarrassed our police department," Dugan said. "They have placed the community's trust in jeopardy. They have tarnished our brand. And they betrayed the oath that they swore to uphold. I could not be more disappointed."

The report that outlines why Maceo was fired in 2019 said he was not competent to be a police officer.

“Due to these repeated violations occurring within a two-year period, you have failed to maintain sufficient competency to properly perform your duties and responsibilities as a Tampa Police Officer,” the report reads.

CL contacted TPD to see if there is a limit to how many violations an officer can receive and still remain on the force. We also asked why Maceo is pursuing drug and gun offenders after his repeated violations, among other questions, but we have not yet received a response.

Last month, CL found that another TPD officer who violently arrested an innocent Black woman was also still on the force, despite her disturbing behavior.

About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia previously wrote for the USA Today Network, The Economic Hardship Reporting Project, Scalawag Magazine, and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 


Scroll to read more Tampa Bay News articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]