Another example: Former Oakland Park detective Joey Isabella admitted to BSO investigators that he fabricated confessions to clear cases because of intense pressure from other detectives. BSO suspended him without pay in July.
In 1999, Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne wanted to improve BSO's system of tracking crime and clearing cases.
Under previous administrations, BSO detectives relied mainly on exceptional clearance, rather than arrests, to solve crimes and boost their clearance rate.
In 1995, under the late Sheriff Ron Cochran, BSO cleared 27 percent of its crimes by exception, 15 percent by arrest, according to agency statistics.
Jenne's weapon to monitor the rates was Powertrac, an innovative computer system that could help investigators pinpoint crime trends street by street.
Jenne sought the advice of the late John "Jack" Maple, a former deputy New York police commissioner and chief architect of the New York Police Department's heralded strategies for fighting crime - Compstat, similar to Powertrac. Maple warned the sheriff to be careful about his agency's use of exceptional clearances - cases solved, or "cleared, " without making an arrest or seeking criminal charges.
The FBI allows police agencies to clear cases by exception when they have a suspect and strong evidence, such as a confession, but cannot make an arrest, possibly because the victim refuses to testify.
OLD SYSTEM FLAWED
Jenne asked his senior staff to revise what they all considered a flawed 1992 BSO policy on "multiple-case clearances."
Fantigrassi, a former homicide detective, was tapped in 1999 to help develop the department's new exceptional clearance policy for multiple cases, especially in property crimes. He called the head of FDLE's uniform crime report unit and asked about exceptionally clearing cases.
"I told them they could clear cases themselves if they know that this is the individual that did the crime and they have enough information to prosecute him for the crime, but there is something that stops them [from prosecuting] like the suspect died or witnesses died, " said Randy Luttrell, a senior manager for FDLE's statistics program.
Though FDLE gave the sheriff's office assurances, BSO was having "difficulty" with getting the state attorney's office to agree to the new policy, according to the internal BSO memo. "By involving the state attorney's office in our process, we feel that it will add another measure of credibility well beyond what [FDLE] guidelines call for, " said Col. Thomas Carney, Fantigrassi's boss.
The state attorney's office rejected BSO's plan. Afterward, discussions between BSO and the state attorney's office abruptly ended.
On Friday, Fantigrassi said it was apparent from the state attorney's office's blunt response that prosecutors did not want to work with BSO on developing a new policy on clearances.
So BSO officials, eager to inject some "integrity" in a flawed clearance process, decided to do it alone, he said.
"The best scenario would have been for the state attorney's office to review [cases for clearance], " Fantigrassi said. "We had to settle for second best."