Rothstein Scandal Prompts Police Policy Reform

Fort Lauderdale Police Department sets stricter limits on hours, pay, and ranking on officers who work private security detail on the side

By Janie Campbell
|  Sunday, Nov 21, 2010  |  Updated 12:46 PM EDT
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A Sneak Preview of Scott Rothstein's Stuff

AP

FILE-In this July 27, 2009 photo, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., attorney Scott Rothstein is shown in his office. Rothstein is set to plead guilty Wedensday, Jan. 27, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale federal court to five charges, including racketeering, fraud and money-laundering conspiracy. The 47-year-old faces a maximum of 100 years in prison. (AP Photo/Charles Trainor Jr., The Miami Herald, File)

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In the long list of South Florida law enforcement embarassments (remember the '80s?), that one of the worst fraudsters in history was enjoying a round-the-clock security detail chock-full of high-ranking Fort Lauderdale policemen is right up near the top of the list.

City commissioners have made sure that particular part of the Scott Rothstein saga shouldn't happen again, insisting on policy changes that are now being adopted by the officers' union.

Under the new restrictions, high-ranking police can no longer take off-duty work, such shifts are now limited to 10 hours, restrictions have been set on off-duty wages, and officers desiring such work must now go through an approval process.

To ensure compliance, majors will now perform quarterly audits of 10 percent of any off-duty detail work in their district

"The concerns that were brought up have been addressed," said Police Chief Frank Adderley, who came under considerable fire for his apparently close relationship with the local lawyer who pled guilty a few months ago to stealing $1.2 billion in a fake settlement scheme.

Rothstein's detail was in place for six months with Adderly's approval until the fraudster's indictment, and included some 28 majors, captains, undercover officers, and patrolmen. In its aftermath, the two officers Rothstein paid to coordinate his security were suspended.

"You had a lot of people alarmed over the Rothstein detail," Adderly admitted. "People were upset, but still they must remember we didn't have any indication that he was a fraud or anything other than a legitimate businessman at the time."

Perhaps they should have: no other Broward resident had ever hired off-duty cops on a 24-hour basis at his home. Federal authorities say Rothstein purposefully hired off-duty police to bolster his appearance as an up-standing citizen even as he was committing his crimes.

While the new policies are not as stringent as those that exist in other departments around the country, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler told the Sun-Sentinel he is satisfied for now.

"It's much better than what existed," Seiler said. "There is no question in my mind that we need reform in this area. I initially wished to see more, but it is a negotiation and you want something everyone can agree on."

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