TARPON SPRINGS — An internal affairs investigation into the actions by a former Tarpon Springs police detective was closed Sept. 20, resulting in a violation for conduct unbecoming a police officer.
According to a press release, Tarpon Springs Police Department’s Administration Division found out on Aug. 6 about a comment made on Aug. 5 by Detective Steve Bergren that “there would be an active shooter situation at the PD if he did not get an assignment to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Countywide Narcotics Task Force.”
Police say the detective had made the statement in a “stoic manner and not giving any indication that this was a joke.”
Bergren was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 6 and all department firearms, badge and identification were taken from him. At that time, internal affairs began an investigation.
Police say due to the nature of the incident, Pinellas County and Pasco County sheriff’s offices were notified and made aware of the statements.
During the course of this investigation, police say it was determined that a second similar comment, also in a stoic manner was made by Bergren on or about May 10, when the internal selection process for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Countywide Narcotics Task Force position began.
Bergren resigned from the Tarpon Springs Police Department Sept. 19, prior to a scheduled interview with IA investigators.
Police say Bergren submitted a letter taking responsibility for making the comment, writing that it was a statement made in "jest," but “in reflection he realizes his attempt at humor was ill-advised.”
The internal affairs investigation was closed Sept. 20 with Chief Robert Kochen issuing a violation of General Order 101.40: Conduct Unbecoming a Police Officer, as investigators considered Bergren’s action a threat in the workplace. Under city of Tarpon Springs rules and regulations, the comments made would have been a termination for a first offense of this nature.
Police say the investigation will be shared with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Standards Commission for evaluation regarding Bergren's certification with the state as a law enforcement officer.