A Florida police officer allegedly used a police database as a ‘date-a-base,’ using the information he found there to meet women. Bradenton Police Sergeant Leonel Marines, 36, is alleged to have called approximately 150 women, actually going on dates with some of them.
Rather than use the data for law enforcement purpose, Marines would phone women, contact them via social media or visit them at home on the pretext of conducting police business. It’s a brazen and downright creepy misuse of a badge, but one that I’ve seen very often – especially in connection with domestic violence charges, believe it or not.
Authorities believe Marines, a 12-year police department veteran who resigned in October 2018, had been operating in this manner since 2012. The FBI is currently reviewing the case for potential criminal charges against Marines.
During his time on the force, Marines was involved as the public point person for important criminal investigations for sexual assault and child molestation, along with fraud and shootings.
Marines’ deception was uncovered in June 2018, when he appeared at the door of a couple asking to speak with their adult daughter regarding a “domestic incident.” Marines had apparently seen their daughter in a parking lot earlier in the day and followed her home.
The young woman’s parents knew something was amiss, as their daughter had not mentioned any situation involving the police. They would not let Marines speak with their daughter, and asked him for his name and that of his supervisor. Marines refused to provide the information and left the property, prompting the parents to call the police.
The Bradenton police department began looking into the incident, discovering Marines’ frequent use of the database. The Bradenton police chief later called the parents’ “heroes” because they had the courage to sense something amiss and not allow the police officer to speak with their daughter.
Not the First Time
Although the parents’ call to the police department initiated the investigation against Marines, it was not the first time someone had complained about his behavior. In 2012, a woman filed a complaint after Marines visited her at her home on several occasions, asking personal questions that didn’t seem to have anything to do with a police investigation.
During an investigation, it was determined that Marines twice accessed the Driver and Vehicle Information Database to obtain personal information about the woman. The database is for official use only, but Marines told investigators he and the woman had mutual friends and he was accessing the database “out of curiosity.” After investigators learned Marines obtained information about eight other people, presumably women, he was given a three-day suspension.
Focus on Non-English Speaking Latina Women
Marines apparently focused on looking up and contacting non-English speaking Latina women. While any woman might become frightened when a police officer calls her or shows up at the door, a woman who doesn’t speak English – and is possibly not here legally – is especially vulnerable.
Not only is she less likely to report such behavior, but out of fear, she may agree to go out with the cop rather than face potential consequences. According to the police chief, it was determined that Marines had sex with some of the women while on duty.
The chief also noted that Marines betrayed the trust of the department and Bradenton citizens, calling it “a truly disturbing situation.” The police department has changed its database auditing practices as a result of the case, she said.
While the department’s comments seem surprised about this situation, the term ‘beat wife’ is fairly common in criminal justice circles, referring to a side woman that an officer sees while he is on duty. As referenced above, I’ve had many cases where there seemed to be a correlation between an arrest for domestic violence arrests and an officer’s interest in the woman involved. In one case, the officer called the woman later that evening stating that she needed to come down to the station to “sign paperwork.” The officer had arrested her husband earlier in the day, against her protests, for ‘domestic violence’ after he had called 911 because she had sprayed him with bear spray during an argument. Because her husband was still in jail, she went to the station with her in laws only to find that the station was closed for the evening, the doors were locked and all the lights were off. Not knowing what to do, the woman and her in laws sat in their car trying to make sense of the officer’s request. After several minutes, the officer came skulking out of the shadows – he had been there waiting and watching the whole time.
As good of a headline as Officer Marine’s situation makes, it is not an anomaly and is indicative of a larger problem within the law enforcement culture.