School officer fired for abusing power
Report: Baldwin officer broke into principal's office to get daughter's phone
BALDWIN, Fla. – A Duval County Public Schools police officer was suspended without pay and later fired after she broke into a principal's office and took property, according to a school district report.
The report said Officer Karen Keen exploited her position as a campus officer at Baldwin Middle-Senior High School to get her daughter’s cellphone back after it had been confiscated by the principal.
The incident happened in September. The report shows Keen's daughter, a student at Baldwin, had been warned about cellphone use during class but violated the rules again and had her phone taken by Principal Denise Hall.
Hall told investigators that she put the phone in her desk and intended to return it to Keen later that evening, but Keen had already taken the phone back without permission.
“It's unusual for law enforcement to be reprimanded like this because they know better than to go into a principal's office -- even though they have a key -- to go into the principal's office for personal reasons,” News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said.
According to the district's report, when Hall reached Keen that evening, Keen told her that an administrator had already returned the phone.
But Hall pointed out during an interview with investigators that that wasn’t possible, because her office door was locked and no other administrators had a key to enter it.
A review of surveillance video later showed Keen using a master key to enter the principal’s office with her daughter, retrieving the phone out of her desk drawer and leaving.
Keen was suspended without pay during the investigation and then terminated after the investigation was completed.
“She went in there for personal reasons and not just going into the office, but going through the principal's desk,” Smith said. “That's just going a bit too far.”
Keen maintained throughout the investigation that she was given permission by an administrator to get the phone from the principal's office.
The official report found that was not true.
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