Flunk Out

Dade County's school district may have its own police department, but law enforcement experts say it doesn't come close to making the grade

According to documents pertaining to the investigation obtained by New Times, Clark was involved in an automobile accident on May 15, 1995, while driving an unmarked school police car on SW Eighth Street.

When she reported the accident to school district police, Clark said she had been the victim of a hit-and-run driver and that she had only glimpsed the suspect car as it sped away. In a written statement, she provided this account: "I was travelling eastbound on SW Eighth Street and Nineteenth Avenue in the far left lane. I attempted to park vehicle and unknown person struck the right side of car causing damage to the front passenger's door. Driver of other vehicle fled scene. No known injuries at this time. I am responding to doctor's office."

School police Ofcr. Rick Brincefield, an accident-investigation specialist, went to the scene. In later written reports and a sworn deposition, Brincefield related that he quickly came to doubt Clark's story. Physical evidence strongly suggested that the accident did not occur in the manner or at the location Clark claimed. A garage mechanic across the street provided Brincefield with a detailed description of the accident's aftermath, which varied dramatically from Clark's version of events.

In a written statement, the witness, Luis M. Perez, recounted: "The driver of the blue car had to exit the car through the passenger side. He and the woman driver of the grey car (she was African American) got together and talked for a while. Both cars then parked by the curb and both drivers continued to converse."

Brincefield's suspicions moved him to action. In his sworn deposition, he said, "After determining that it was possibly developing into a criminal case ... I requested that someone from internal affairs respond to the scene, and Lieutenant Dodson responded there."

Brincefield was then asked: "From your knowledge and experience in investigating accidents, what crime [sic] specifically do you feel was violated?"

Brincefield: "The verbal. It's actually two separate crimes, the verbal falsification of an accident report for circumstances surrounding that, and the written falsification of that." Brincefield identified the state statutes: 837.05 and 837.06, both of them misdemeanors.

Ofcr. Rick Brincefield died unexpectedly in October 1995 at the age of 34.
Capt. Stephana Clark referred all questions regarding the internal affairs investigation to her attorney, Howard Brodsky, who declined to discuss the matter.

After initially cooperating with New Times in the preparation of this article, Chief Vivian Monroe abruptly ended all communication, prohibited any contact with police officers on school campuses, and actively discouraged members of the department from participating in interviews.

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