Osceola County Sheriff: 8 deputies suspended for 'conduct unbecoming'

Osceola Sheriff Marcos Lopez has suspended eight deputies after he said it was discovered that they sent inappropriate messages over an instant messaging system.

He said a supervisor discovered what was happening during a random check.

"All of them were issued a 24 hours suspension, conduct unbecoming," the sheriff said. "It was a lot of inappropriate things."

The instant messaging system helps deputies communicate quickly while out on calls. Sheriff Lopez said he suspended the deputies for misusing the system.

According to an internal affairs report, some of the comments were sexually explicit, offensive to the LGBTQ community, and racially insensitive.

"I think it is wrong and officers are to be held to a higher standard," Sheriff Lopez added.

The report states some comments were said in jest and not intended to insult or degrade anyone but were immature and unprofessional.

"It does upset me and it bothers me. It stems from a previous administration," Lopez said, adding that the incidents happened from August to October last year, before he became sheriff. "Sometimes you have to correct bad behavior. Just like bad kids, if they don’t see it really wrong, they’re gonna continue to engage until someone brings it to their attention and says, 'Hey, this is wrong!'"

Sheriff Lopez explained that the deputies will also undergo training so they learn to communicate better.

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