Removed detectives take experience with them

2 reassigned in wake of Cherish Perrywinkle investigation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two prominent detectives who were reassigned from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office homicide unit in the wake of the Cherish Perrywinkle investigation have a combined 56 years with JSO.

The attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police says the officers -- 32-year veteran Lt. Rob Schoonover and 24-year veteran Sgt. Lonnie Mills -- haven't accepted the discipline yet, and he's ready to represent them if they decide to challenge JSO's decision.

Schoonover usually briefs the media at JSO homicide news conference, but there was a different face at Friday morning's to announce the latest homicide arrest.

REPORT: Internal Affairs report on Cherish Perrywinkle case
UNCUT: Thursday night's news conference

While Schoonover and Mills are out of of JSO's homicide unit, the Sheriff's Office says their roles in the agency are far from over.

"They will have the same positions. All of our positions here are lateral," Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt said. "It's not a promotion to go to the detective division, so they will both go back to patrol. Mills will still be a sergeant. Schoonover will still be a lieutenant. They'll just be working somewhere else."

The two will still take home the same salaries. JSO says Schoonover makes nearly $90,000 a year. Mills takes home more than $70,000 annually.

JSO's homicide unit will now be without two of its most experienced officers. The unit is comprised of six active homicide teams. Each team has four detectives and one sergeant, one of whom was Mills. They are all supervised by a lieutenant, the position Schoonover used to hold.

Phil Vogelsang, an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police says the officers can fight their reprimands through a grievance process. If they choose do, it goes through the chain of command all the way up to the sheriff, and possibly arbitration.

Vogelsang says they can fight this specific incident and something called progressive discipline.

"For instance, Lt. Schoonover's been on the Sheriff's Office for 32 years. He hasn't been disciplined one time for anything. So to go from never being disciplined to a suspension right away would be another angle that we might be able to look at," Vogelsang said.

Vogelsang said he's still waiting to speak with Schoonover and Mills about what steps they plan to take next week.

Mills said Friday he had no comment.

JSO issued a statement late Friday afternoon that reads: "There will be no further comment from officials at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office regarding the internal affairs case discussed at yesterday's news briefing until the disciplinary process is complete. The agency will announce personnel changes resulting from this case at a later date."