Port St. Lucie, FL - A Port St. Lucie police officer was suspended after she called in sick because she couldn't find anyone to take care of her children during Hurricane Irma.
Officer Erika Curry was suspended for 120 hours, which equals 12 days of full shifts, for violating department policy for misuse of sick benefits, absence from duty, and reporting for duty, police spokesman Master Sergeant Frank Sabol said.
During hurricanes, officers at the Port St. Lucie Police Department are obligated to work, Sgt. Sabol said. Officers had already been notified that they had to work mandatory 13-hour shifts as the hurricane approached.
Officer Curry had originally requested to use vacation time Sept. 9 and 10 during Hurricane Irma, but was denied, according to TCPalm.
She had no one to care for her kids because her husband, who is a St. Lucie county firefighter, was also required to work, according to an internal affairs (IR) report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
Her supervisor, Acting Lieutenant Michelle Steele, told IA, “She said she didn’t have child care and her husband was being activated and she wouldn’t be able to work the emergency shift schedules as ordered."
Officer Curry's mother-in-law was supposed to watch her children, but she evacuated as the hurricane approached, leaving Officer Curry with no child care.
Instead, Officer Curry had a union rep call in sick for her during those two days, according to the IA report.
In a voicemail released by police, Officer Curry said "I’ve already booked out for today, so I wanted to let you know that tomorrow, of course, I’m gonna be calling in sick too because of the whole you know, no child care,” according to WEAR.
The IA report said, “She was directed via email that despite her request, she was still mandated to report to duty as required.”
After Officer Curry was directed by email to report to duty, she responded in another email that said “Sun I don’t have childcare as well the reason I wasn’t here today or tomorrow. Long story and I’m aware I’m prob getting a write up.”
A complaint was filed against Officer Curry on Sept. 20, and she did not deny the allegations, according to the IA report, which was signed and finalized in November.
During a recorded interview with Port St. Lucie Police Chief John A. Bolduc, Officer Curry said little but accepted responsibility for her actions.
Chief Bolduc asked Officer Curry “Have anything you want to add to the record?” during the interview.
"Nope,” Officer Curry said.
Officer Curry also had to sign what’s called a “Last Chance Agreement,” meaning if she does this again in a year’s span, she could be fired.
Officer Curry has already served her suspension, Sgt. Sabol said.
Both Chief Bolduc and Officer Curry declined to speak with WEAR.