CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak showed his "immaturity as a leader and an inability to learn from an undesirable situation" during his response to city officials about why he attended a pool party and posed for a photo with 14 female officers last July, a letter of reprimand to Hudak from City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark said.
According to the letter, Hudak was in full uniform when he attended a pool party with female subordinates on July 19, 2017.
An independent investigator hired by the city after the photo was posted on social media and then put out by the media noted that there was no specific policy prohibiting the police chief’s attendance at the party, but the city manager wrote that as "Chief of Police you should always remain cognizant that your conduct will be closely scrutinized by subordinates, the media and the citizens/residents that you serve."
Swanson-Rivenbark said Hudak's response to the incident was more troubling as he failed to show any remorse and even told a major during the investigation that he would attend the party again if similar circumstances presented themselves.
The city manager said in the letter that Hudak also lied about praising the 14 officers at the party, claiming to tell them how proud the police department is of them and telling the officers they need to continue to "employ their training" to do their jobs as safety and compassionately as possible.
Swanson-Rivenbark said all 14 officers were interviewed and none recalled the police chief praising their work at the pool party.
According to the letter, Hudak also saw one of the women, Sgt. Lauren Poole, use her city-issued vehicle to arrive at the party. Hudak later approved the use of the vehicle, although he was not authorized to do so, the letter stated.
Local 10 News learned in November that the city received an anonymous letter from a person who claimed to have been at the party.
Officials said the letter was filled with allegations of sexual misconduct against the chief and sexually explicit comments about the women.
Similar derogatory remarks were also made on the Instagram post where the photo was posted.
According to a collection of emails, the head of the police union asked city officials for an independent investigation in August, but it wasn't until November that officers sat down with the investigator.
"The city never reached out to any of them in three months just to ask them if they were OK," Coral Gables Police Union President John Baublitz said.
The retired officer who investigated the claims in the letter cleared the police chief of any wrongdoing.
According to a newly released report, there were allegations in the letter that the female officers were embarrassed to see the police chief at the party, but the report stated that none of the officers claimed to be uncomfortable and "all expressed some level of satisfaction with his turnout."
The city manager stated in her letter of reprimand that Hudak claimed during the investigation that the police department does not investigate anonymous complaints unless they contain criminal allegations, which Swanson-Rivenbark said is "an inaccurate and misleading statement."
The city manager ordered Hudak to "exercise a higher level of judgment" and said that failure to "practice more professional and mature judgment moving forward will result in further disciplinary action, including termination."
The city manager said the letter of reprimand has been permanently added to the police chief's personnel file.