A Tampa Police Department Captain retired early during an investigation into how she drunkenly tried to use TPD identification to cut the line onto a Busch Gardens ride, then pushed an employee and cussed out a fellow officer last October.
On Oct. 24, 2021, TPD Captain Ashley Roberts was off duty, drunk, and tried to go to the front of the line for the "Cobra's Curse" roller coaster, according to findings presented to Tampa's Citizen Review Board (CRB). A line attendant told her it was against the rules, and that she needed a "quick queue" pass cut to the front of lines at the park.
Busch Gardens visitors usually pay $15-$20 on top of regular park entrance fees to get such a pass, but Roberts and her two guests (who were not TPD officers) wanted to forego the cost the average citizen has to pay.
The employee wasn't having it, and Roberts got physical.
"When an employee asked for her quick queue pass, she pulled out her TPD badge wallet, minus her badge, and said that was her quick queue pass, " Jason Degagne, an Internal Affairs detective who investigated the case told the CRB on May 24.
"When the employee went on the radio to report that Captain Roberts and her party did not have the correct passes, she pushed by him in order to get on the ride," Degagne continued. "He alerted security and Tampa Police officers to stop her once they got off the ride."
After Roberts and her two guests pulled in from their rollercoaster ride, Roberts was confronted by Busch Gardens security and a fellow TPD officer. Degagne said she became "belligerent and disrespectful" to her colleague.
An Internal Affairs investigation was initiated and just two days later, on Oct. 26 2021, Roberts took an early retirement.
The investigation found that Roberts was in violation of three department policies: standard of conduct, abuse of position or identification, and rules about alcohol consumption.
The CRB voted unanimously that the board agreed with the findings of the IA investigation.
Although she retired before the investigation was complete, Roberts still received her full retirement benefits from the department, according to Degagne.
The findings of the investigation were presented verbally by Degagne to the CRB on May 24—seven months after the incident occurred. The CRB—created under former Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and criticized as toothless—can only review closed IA cases.
CL reached out to the Busch Gardens media team to confirm what the police say about the situation, as well as TPD for more documentation on the matter.
TPD has not yet responded to the question of how often officers that are under Internal Affairs investigations can retire in the midst of them and still receive their full benefits.
"Others might have been trespassed from the park, or maybe, if they're doing something wrong, be arrested," Collins said. "She [Roberts] did have a pretty good little time there, it appears, with her behavior."