Gainesville, Florida — On March 6, 2014 Sheriff Sadie Darnell placed Captain Keith Vermillion, one of her top commanders, on Administrative Suspension based on allegations of criminal activity and misconduct. Based on the criminal allegations, Sheriff Darnell requested assistance from Sheriff David Shoar with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. An independent investigation was conducted by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and concluded that there was no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing discovered by Keith Vermillion.
The Administrative Investigation conducted by the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office of Professional Standards resulted in a total of five (5) separate investigations. The following is a synopsis of each investigation by case number and the findings.
14-IA-16: A search warrant was obtained on January 14, 2013, by ACSO detectives to gather evidence in an on-going child pornography investigation. An item of private property was improperly obtained and disseminated at the direction of Captain Keith Vermillion.
Finding: Sustained violation of ACSO Directive 353.V.A.2 – Conduct Unbecoming an Employee which resulted in ten (10) days suspension without pay and placement on twelve (12) months disciplinary probation to run consecutively with the twelve month disciplinary probation imposed in 14-IA-21. (Note: 14-IA-16 was finalized June 30, 2014.)
14-IA-21: On March 20, 2014, a former ACSO employee contacted Colonel David Huckstep and informed him that Captain Keith Vermillion had recently given them details about an open investigation of which Captain Vermillion was the subject employee. Colonel Huckstep immediately notified the Office of Professional Standards.
Finding: Sustained violation of ACSO Directive 353.V.A.12 – Communicating or Imparting Confidential Information which resulted in two (2) days suspension without pay and placement on twelve (12) months disciplinary probation. (Note: 14-IA-21 was finalized April 8, 2014.)
14-IA-22: Captain Keith Vermillion was alleged to have made a potentially inappropriate comment during an informal conversation with several subordinates in September 2013.
Finding: Initial violation was Harassment, Sexual, and Other in violation of ACSO Directive 353 V.A.8 but was ultimately amended to a sustained violation of ACSO Directive 353.V.B.9 Improper Conduct which resulted in two (2) days suspension without pay and placement of twelve (12) months disciplinary probation to run concurrent with disciplinary probation imposed in 14-IA-21. (Note: 14-IA-22 was finalized April 30, 2014.)
14-IA-24: On March 6, 2014, allegations were received that Captain Keith Vermillion created an “atmosphere of distrust” and “manipulation” in the Detective Bureau. Over fifty (50) witnesses were interviewed as a result of these allegations.
Finding: Sustained violation of ACSO Directive 353.V.A.2 – Conduct Unbecoming an Employee. This extensive investigation revealed a preponderance of evidence that Captain Vermillion’s management style was divisive, toxic and negatively impacted the work performance of the majority of CID personnel; and eroded some professional relationships within and external to ACSO. As a result of this violation Sheriff Darnell notified him of her intent to terminate him July 1, 2014. (Note: 14-IA-24 was finalized July 1, 2014.)
14-IA-35: During 2013, Captain Keith Vermillion ordered several members of the Detective Bureau to use images and audio of child sexual abuse in progress (child pornography) for “shock value” for the purported purpose of law enforcement training.
Finding: Sustained violation of ACSO Directive 353.V.A.2 – Conduct Unbecoming an Employee. Sheriff Darnell found this to be an egregious and inexcusable violation and as a result, Sheriff Darnell has notified him of her intent to terminate him effective July 1, 2014. (Note: 14-IA-35 was finalized June 30, 2014.)
Captain Vermillion will be given an opportunity to respond to the Sheriff’s decision in an informal hearing with the Sheriff at a later date.
Captain Keith Vermillion was hired by Sheriff Darnell in February 2007.
He has served in the following capacities as a commander:
Office of Professional Standards from February 2007 until June 2011 as a direct report to Sheriff Darnell; Captain Vermillion assumed full command of the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) Commander in June 2011 and is where he currently serves. He is responsible for the Detective Bureau, the Drug Task Force, and the Forensic Unit. As the CID Commander, Captain Vermillion reports directly to Major Mike Fellows.
He was previously employed with the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department (2001-2007) where he served as Director of the Savannah Impact Program, a multi-agency offender re-entry program. During his tenure with the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department he was the recipient of numerous awards including the Georgia Board of Pardon and Parole Innovations Award (2002); the Dr. Curtis McClung Award of Excellence from the Georgia.
Following the termination of Captain Vermillion, the ACSO released the following statement.
“Employees that do not foster a positive professional work environment for all employees will not be tolerated and handled accordingly. All ACSO employees including members of the Command Staff are held to a higher standard and placed in a position of high responsibility and trust by Sheriff Darnell and citizens within our community.”