Policing makes strange bedfellows

University Police (UP) made an unusual arrest Saturday, jailing an AlliedBarton security guard for failing to appear in court.

The suspect, Geovanni Gilbert Rodriguez, 22, is one of 40 AlliedBarton security officers that work on USF’s campus.

UP arrested Rodriguez after the guard called in a report of a suspicious person, Frank Douglass Rockwell Jr., loitering near bicycle racks on campus. Rockwell had pawn tickets in his pocket, according to UP spokeswoman Lt. Meg Ross, indicating that he had recently pawned bicycles. Rockwell also had bolt cutters on him.

UP Officer James Cara said the investigation of Douglass is ongoing.

While processing the report, UP dispatchers entered Rodriguez’s name and date of birth into the system – standard procedure for witnesses. When they ran his information, they discovered that there was a warrant out for his arrest. The warrant was issued for failing to appear in court for a criminal traffic citation.

UP officers said police make many arrests based on the entering of witness information into their system.

“You’d be surprised at how many witnesses end up in jail,” Cara said.

Rockwell, 34, was booked on charges of loitering or prowling and taken to Orient Road Jail on $250 bond. In addition, he was issued a trespassing warning from UP, which means that he is subject to arrest if found on campus again, Ross said.

Rockwell, a resident of Wesley Chapel, is listed as unemployed on his Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrest report and is not affiliated with the University, Cara said.

Rodriguez, was arrested and transported to the same jail where he was booked on $263 bond.

“He ended up going to jail with the thief,” Ross said.

Cara said the pair were not likely sent to jail in the same car, and that an AlliedBarton supervisor was probably alerted to the situation.

Rodriguez was charged with misuse of a temporary tag and released the same day. University administrators expressed mixed feelings about the arrest.

“On the one hand, he was doing his job and helped catch a bike thief,” said USF spokesman Ken Gullette of the allegations.

“On the other hand, he made a mistake by not going to court and failing to appear when scheduled.”

In an earlier interview, AlliedBarton Account Manager Mitchell Crawford said that AlliedBarton employees undergo background checks. Cara said Rodriguez’s warrant might not have shown up in his background check because it might have been issued after that check was conducted. UP officers, said Cara, are given background checks and are tested for valid driver’s licenses monthly.

The arrest of one of its own is not the only controversy AlliedBarton is facing. An AlliedBarton security officer was recently transferred from campus after eliciting complaints from students that were “something of a sexual harassment nature,” said Bruce Benson, director of public safety at USF.

Benson also said that to the best of his knowledge, the security officers have yet to complete sexual harassment training.

Calls to Crawford seeking comment on the arrest and the transfer were not returned at press time.