82ºF

Gainesville captain resigns after harassment probe

GPD: Investigation found grounds for termination over sexual harassment

photo

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A Gainesville Police Department captain has resigned after an internal affairs investigation found that he violated sexual harassment rules on the job.

Capt. Brian Helmerson has been under investigation since August, GPD spokesman Ben Tobias said.

The inquiry began when one of Helmerson's female colleagues reported that he sexually harassed her and three other women also alleged harassment, saying he made the department a hostile workplace.

Former Alachua Police Chief Joel DeCoursey conducted the third-party investigation and more than 25 witnesses testified in the case.

According to reports, a female lieutenant said there were four significant incidents when Helmerson made inappropriate and sexual comments about her breasts. She said that he continued making the comments even after she asked him to stop.

The two had worked together for more than 20 years.

When asked about those comments, Helmerson told investigators his comments about the woman's breasts were a "little joke" between the two of them.

Other complaints against Helmerson include allegations that he treated two female officers differently because they were pregnant.

In each of the cases, the independent investigation found enough evidence to recommend Helmerson's termination from the police department.

Helmerson submitted his resignation before there was a hearing on his employment. He served 28 years with GPD.

The investigation prompted Chief Tony Jones to order a reorganization of the Gainesville Police Department. Some of those changes will take effect as early as Jan. 1.

“This reorganization will bring more transparency to the agency to enhance the relationship and trust with the Gainesville community,” Tobias said.

Jones will be planning a town hall meeting in January to announce the reorganization in further detail.

Jones has also ordered that all of GPD’s supervisory staff receive enhanced training on sexual harassment.


About the Author: