St. Augustine Beach suspends police chief

St. Johns County sheriff will appoint interim chief

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. - The St. Augustine Beach commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to suspend Police Chief Richard Hedges and called for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate dozens of accusations against him.

Hedges, 57, was suspended with pay while allegations outlined in a 72-page report by 10 of his departments' 14 officers are investigated.

A document outlines "trivial, isolated incidents to major incidents" committed by Hedges, including lying, misplacing guns and evidence, lacking leadership and even drinking in uniform.

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The report claims incidents of fraternization, favoritism, unethical behavior, lack of communication, lack of leadership, failure of discipline for sexual harassment, failure to collect evidence in a rape case, taking an SUV of a man who'd committed suicide, and at least seven handguns and a $1,500 bicycle missing.

The assistant police chief, Daniel Decoursey, and the city's former mayor, Frank Charles, are also named in the complaint that alleges immoral, unethical and illegal acts.

"I think (the charges) will speak for themselves when FDLE is given the chance to thoroughly look at this," said Mike Scudiero, a spokesman for the officers. "When all is said and done, we believe the chief and the assistant chief will have a lot of questions to answer."

Hedges had no comment after the vote, but some people at the meeting don't believe the chief did anything wrong.

"I don't believe what they said," Bob Kahler said of the accusations. "Let's leave it that way."

Hedges is suspended with pay and is allowed to keep his badge, gun and assigned vehicle while he is under investigation.

An executive member will be assigned from Southern Regional Command to assist with the daily operations of the St. Augustine Police Department during Hedges' suspension.

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