On 7-22-2016, Lt. Frank Forte gave a statement to the Internal Affairs division of the Escambia County Sheriffs Office (ECSO). His statement was about a complaint he filed concerning court testimony of another officer. The officer, Sgt. Philip Nix, was a witness to a parking citation that had been issued on Pensacola Beach. Dep. David Cripe wrote a citation that he had been ordered not to issue. Sgt. Nix had instructed Dep. Cripe that a vehicle parked on the curb had asked permission and he was aware of the parked vehicles. Sgt. Nix also was aware that an ongoing issue about the parking area had not been resolved. The issue was about the parking area having legal marking to make a citation legal if issued.
Lt. Forte had been informed of the issue concerning parking by Dep. Cripe. This occurred on a Saturday morning, in January, on Pensacola Beach. The temperature was near freezing and the day not exactly a busy summer day. Parking was not creating any hardship for any person at the beach. Sgt. Nix had stated that it was not a situation that required any need for concern. The issue of parking was not a major concern and the incident was not one that could be considered urgent. Now, consider that Lt. Forte is involved. Situation becomes a major issue because in true fashion Lt. Forte must be center of attention. He could never miss an opportunity to flex his muscles and prove he is in charge.
Sgt. Nix left the beach from the duty assignment he was working. Shortly after Sgt. Nix left Dep Cripe rushed to the parked vehicles and issued citations. This action by Dep. Cripe is completed with the blessing of Lt. Forte. Later, Lt. Forte is quoted as saying “I don’t give a shit what he ordered” referring to Sgt. Nix instructing Dep. Cripe to not issue citations. Lt. Forte gave no consideration to the people that had been informed by a law enforcement officer to park in a location that he was now ordering citations to be issued. His ego controlled a decision to be made that cause innocent people to be caught up in a temper tantrum he was having against Sgt. Nix. Lt. Forte was more concerned about proving Sgt. Nix was not going to control “his Beach” and this point would be made by citing unsuspecting individuals with a ticket costing around $130.00. Lt. Forte didn’t even think about the fact Sgt. Nix wouldn’t be impacted by the decision. It would only impact the individual Sgt. Nix didn’t know receiving a ticket. Lt. Forte was caught up in proving he was in charge and flexing his muscle. This mentality is why he has been forced to bribe officers to even work for him, by buying sunglasses, if they transfer to him. The same reason he failed to motivate his shifts to the point he offered cash rewards for completing expected job requirements to officers that met a defined goal. He failed to even consider he was violating the law with providing gifts for doing a job.
Getting back to the citations on the beach, recipients of the tickets contested them. Sgt. Nix was subpoenaed to court to testify about the facts of the case. Sgt. Nix appeared in court as required. The testimony he gave was brief and to the point when asked questions concerning the citations and his involvement. Lt. Forte was in the courtroom when Sgt. Nix gave testimony. Lt. Forte falsely report back to ECSO administration that the testimony given by Sgt. Nix was considered “Conduct Unbecoming an Officer”. Lt. Forte explained that Lt. Nix made statements that were derogatory toward the ECSO and stated Sgt. Nix made critical remarks about the agency that were shocking.
The traffic hearing occurred on 6-10-2016. After confirming the traffic court had not been recorded by any type of court reporter, an internal investigation was ordered to be completed on Sgt. Nix. The investigation was based on the complaint made by Lt. Forte. At that point, the only evidence would have been the statements given by those that witnessed the court hearing. The case would relied on the memory and recall of those that were in the court room on the day of the hearing. Lt. Forte was one of the individuals that provided a statement concerning the conduct in the hearing that Sgt. Nix gave testimony. It would be safe to assume that Sgt. Nix didn’t have much of a chance with this investigation. Lt. Forte had previously given an opinion of what he believed had occurred. He was the person actually responsible for the complaint.
On 7-22-2016, Lt. Forte gave a statement concerning the testimony of Sgt. Nix. The statement was under oath. He was asked if he had knowledge of the incident. Lt. Forte responded with a response that took 5 transcribed pages to document. Lt. Forte included statements that he heard Sgt. Nix say the ECSO wrote illegal tickets routinely and have for years. He stated that Sgt. Nix was blurting out statements with being asked questions. He continued with testimony that made Sgt. Nix appear out of control and obviously not acting in a professional manner. Lt. Fortes statement described an officer that needed to be not only disciplined but for the discipline to be harsh up to even termination. This statement was the best evidence because there was not a court transcript. The issue came down to Lt. Fortes word against Sgt. Nix’s word.
On 8-31-2016, Sgt. Nix was interviewed by internal affairs investigators regarding the court appearance. Sgt. Nix reviewed the evidence and statements that had been given to this point. Sgt. Nix noticed that Lt. Forte was a confirmed liar and had no intent on being truthful. When compared to actual events, the statement of Lt. Forte could not be recognized as the same hearing that Sgt. Nix had appeared at causing this investigation. Lt. Forte made statements that were absolutely false and had no truth to them. Lt. Forte lied consistently through the entire statement concerning the conduct of Sgt. Nix. Lt. Forte had the belief he could say whatever he wanted to say because he knew the ECSO had not been able to receive a transcript of the actual hearing. It was not available from the clerk’s office.
Sgt. Nix had anticipated the possibility that there could be an issue with Lt. Forte and the court appearance concerning the parking tickets. Sgt. Nix was able to provide an official transcript of the court hearing. The court hearing had been documented by a court reporter at the expense of Sgt. Nix. Knowing Lt. Forte had the reputation of being a liar and avoiding truthful statements when it did not benefit his cause he hired a court reporter. Sgt. Nix was able to prove that Lt. Forte was the liar that he had always been believed Lt. Forte to be. It was in black and white. Lt. Forte gave a statement that was a complete lie and there was an official transcript that proved Lt. Forte had lied while under oath.
Sgt. Nix having a copy of a court transcript prompted an investigation against Lt. Forte for being untruthful. In true ECSO fashion Lt. Forte was exonerated because he said he didn’t have a chance to review the transcript. Had Sgt. Nix not paid for a court reporter there would not have been a transcript. I guess Lt. Forte can only be expected to tell the truth if he has an opportunity to review what can be used against him if he decides to be a liar. Most law enforcement issues that require a statement do not have transcript’s available to rely on when giving testimony from memory of an incident. This mentality would suggest unless Lt. Forte has little credibility when being judged on honesty. Lt. Forte said his statement would have not been the same if he could have had a chance to read the court transcript before his statement under oath. What that actually means is he would have been truthful if he would have known he would get caught in a lie. It is possible there are people that have suffered from his testimony in the past. If he would lie about another officer, because of a personal vendetta, it is not a stretch to think he would lie to look like a competent cop.
Now, the ECSO has made the decision to place Lt. Forte as Officer in Charge of Internal Affairs. Let that sink in for a minute. A known and proven liar placed in a position to investigate officers that have had complaints on them. He knows that if you are in favorable position with the administration an investigation of a complaint will be directed toward being covered up. He knows because he was the benefactor of such an investigation. If there is not a case against an officer, he can control information to appear the officer is at fault. The most tragic part of this is the officers that are continually subjected to the incompetent leadership of this administration. There is not a scenario that one could imagine that would make Lt. Forte a good choice for a position that should require honesty and integrity. There should not be a surprise here because the administration has proven there is not a requirement to have honesty or integrity. In fact, you don’t even need ability. All you need is the desire to carry water for the powers that be regardless of how deplorable they may be.