Key Biscayne Cop Fired for Sleeping in Patrol Car Now Running for Sheriff

Former Key Biscayne Police Officer Carlos Gutierrez, who was fired for sleeping while on duty, is now running for sheriff in Collier County.
Former Key Biscayne Police Officer Carlos Gutierrez, who was fired for sleeping while on duty, is now running for sheriff in Collier County.
Key Biscayne photo by Ron Wiecki via FlickrCC, candidate photo via Collier County Supervisor of Elections

In early 2007, a self-identified “disappointed but hopeful resident” of Key Biscayne typed out a letter to the police chief about something the person found appalling. The resident had noticed a cop car in front of the ritzy, members-only Grand Bay Club and was happy to see the police department patrolling the area. Wanting to say thanks to the officer one day, the tipster approached the car and tapped on the window.

To the resident's dismay, the officer inside was fast asleep – even the knock on the window hadn't awoken him.

That wasn't the only letter Police Chief Charles Press received about Officer Carlos Gutierrez that spring. A second complainant wrote that she saw Gutierrez asleep in the parking lot of the private club for several hours. A third, who identified as a retired federal law enforcement officer, told the chief he needed to “take care of the bad apple.”

“MANY NEIGHBORS… ARE ANGRY AND, AS YOU KNOW, ALL UP IN ARMS ABOUT THEIR TAX DOLLARS PAYING FOR A SLEEPING OFFICER AND A CAR RUNNING,” the retired officer wrote in all caps.

After fellow officers running an internal investigation caught him asleep in his patrol car on two occasions, Gutierrez was fired for jeopardizing public safety on the night shift. A GPS tracking device on his vehicle found he had been idle for a third of the time he'd been on the clock during the two weeks he was under surveillance.

After a spectacle like that, you might think Gutierrez would look into an alternate career path. Instead, he's running for sheriff of Collier County.

As of this week, Gutierrez remained the only candidate who had filed for the November election in the county, home to Naples and Florida's largest farming operations. Incumbent Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, a veteran law enforcement officer with two terms as sheriff under his belt, has yet to file paperwork with the supervisor of elections, although a spokeswoman says he has every intention of doing so.

In Key Biscayne, Gutierrez filed a grievance to get his job back, saying he had sleep apnea and accusing the department of targeting him after he started a union there. A federal arbitrator denied his request, saying Gutierrez admitted in interviews to “dozing off” and pointing out that he'd never disclosed his sleep apnea to supervisors.

After losing his job in Key Biscayne, it appears Gutierrez struggled to find another gig in law enforcement until 2010, when he was hired as a part-time officer in Broward County by the Sea Ranch Lakes Police Department, which serves a village of 668 people and made only eight arrests in 2014, the last year for which data is available. Gutierrez was brought on full time in 2011 and continues to work as one of Sea Ranch Lakes' 11 officers in the 0.2-square-mile community.

New Times reached out to Gutierrez to learn more about his campaign for sheriff, but he hasn't yet responded to multiple messages. Since filing in June 2013, he has raised $1,700, including a $100 loan to himself, according to election records.


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >