NORTH PORT, Fla. -- The North Port Police Department finally broke its silence about the March 2nd sexual battery of a victim hosting a party attended by multiple officers -- including those accused of the crime. Police Chief Kevin Vespia held a press conference this morning, detailing the allegations that have resulted in one North Port officer being arrested and another committing suicide rather than face prosecution.
"The North Port Police Department does not tolerate this kind of misconduct from its officers, nor is it a refection of the many men and women of our department that work tirelessly everyday to keep our citizens safe," said Chief Vespia. "The agency would like to express our deepest sympathies to the victims of this case, the citizens of North Port and the family of Officer Urbina."
Ricky Urbina was one of two officers under investigation, but he shot and killed himself yesterday, right before he was set to be arrested. The other officer, Melanie Turner, is currently in the Sarasota County Jail.
It’s a situation that has shocked many in the community.
"It’s alarming. After all, we do trust them to protect," says North Port resident Reberta Zych.
Others say the shocking events have changed their impression of the department.
"I’ve dealt with the North Port Police and they've been wonderful,” says resident Karren Bryant. “If they are guilty to have done something like this, it’s disturbing and they should be held accountable.”
Bryant’s husband Roger is more direct: "I don't trust the police department like I use to," he says.
In the meantime, North Port P.D. says it will be working to repair its reputation.
"We will also work tirelessly to rebuild the public’s trust that may have been lost as a result of this incident," says Chief Vespia.