'Abduction' case -- where are Sheriff Demings' promises for reforms?

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings' department is being ridiculed across the globe for handling of 'abduction'

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Jerry Demings was going to be the new sheriff in town, a spit-and-polish administrator who would reform the good-old-boy network that built up under 16 years of Sheriff Kevin Beary.

"There's a bully mentality that's permeated the agency for years," he said during his 2008 campaign. "And, I think, it's time for a change.''

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  • Teen 'abduction' case: Video, 911 call, stories, columns
  • Poll: Did cops do right thing?

    Do you agree with how authorities dealt with a teen after he was seen with a little girl separated from her mother at a store?

    • Yes -- better safe than sorry. He used poor judgment, and we can't be too careful in protecting our kids from potential predators.
    • No. -- it's silly. It sounds like a series of misunderstandings got blown out of proportion. Now this kid could be scarred by the experience.
Voters agreed. Demings won a landslide victory over John Tegg, a 20-year department veteran who had strong support from deputies and their union.

In his victory statement, Demings promised "to leave no stone unturned'' in making the Sheriff's Office the best law-enforcement agency in Florida.

So my question is this: When?

Demings is embroiled in what looks very much like an oldie-goldie controversy from the Beary era. It's almost as if the old sheriff never left.

Department detectives busted a 14-year-old boy June 10, claiming he tried to abduct a 3-year-old girl from a Burlington Coat Factory. They cuffed him, paraded him in front of television cameras, interrogated him at length and charged him with false imprisonment.

The boy, Edwin, said he simply was trying to help the girl find her mother. The misguided attempt led him outside because he thought the girl's mother had just left the store.

It turned out the mother still was in the store and had lost track of her daughter while shopping. When told Edwin took her daughter outside, she retrieved her.

Unfortunately, the cops were called, and Edwin now faces a felony charge. The absurdity has become a national story.

Judging from my mountain of e-mail, people from Australia to New York to the Czech Republic all seem to understand this was nothing more than a misunderstanding.

Now if only Sheriff Demings and his sex-crimes unit could figure that out as well.

Demings refuses to talk as his department succumbs to national ridicule.

By now, even Sheriff Beary would have figured it out, called a press conference and apologized to Edwin while shedding some of his famous crocodile tears.

Demings simply hides behind misleading statements that his department puts out about the evidence. If this is typical of how detectives make decisions on arresting people, it's pretty frightening.

The evidence cited by the Sheriff's Office is the store surveillance video. The department says it refutes the claim by Edwin's mother that he told her he was going to look for the girl's mother and then walked out of the store.

The department sent me an e-mail saying the video shows Edwin "never made any contact or walked over to her regarding a notification.''

But for that to be true, there would have to be uninterrupted video of Edwin from the moment he saw the girl until he left the store.

There is not. The video comes from different cameras, with each picking up Edwin at a different point in the store.

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THE EDITORIAL BOARD


Andy Green, the opinion editor, has taken the "know a little bit about everything" approach in his time at The Sun. He was the city/state editor before coming to the editorial board, and prior to that he covered the State House and Baltimore County government.

Tricia Bishop, the deputy editorial page editor, was a reporter in the business and metro sections covering biotechnology, education and city and federal courts prior to joining the board.

Peter Jensen, former State House reporter and features writer, takes the lead on state government, transportation issues and the environment; he is the board's resident funny man and capital schmooze.

Glenn McNatt, who returned to editorial writing after serving as the newspaper's art critic, keeps an eye on the arts, culture, politics and the law for the editorial board.

Allowing bias by faith groups [Poll]

Should President Obama exclude faith groups from a promised executive order -- yet to be signed -- barring federal contractors from discriminating against gay men and lesbians, as some groups are pressuring him to do in the wake of the Hobby Lobby ruling?

  • Yes
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