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A Lauderhill lieutenant is under investigation again, so why is he still on the force?

LAUDERHILL, Fla. – A high ranking South Florida police lieutenant is under investigation and Local 10 News has learned that this is not the first time, not even the second time he’s been in trouble and even fired.

Lieutenant Michael Bigwood has been fired by the Lauderhill Police Department twice, and both times he has been reinstated after binding arbitration.

We have now learned he is currently on administrative leave — again. Is this the best Lauderhill has to offer its residents? Its department?

Bigwood has been ordered to turn over his gun, his badge, and is currently the focus of an internal affairs investigation.

We approached Bigwood at his residence.

“Can I talk to you about the situation going on?”

“No.”

“Why not?” we asked.

He tells us he’s not allowed to talk about it.

“What can you say about prior incidents?”

He says the incidents “are resolved.”

“They are resolved but, I mean, are you the best type of person to be a person in a police department?” we asked.

Bigwood walked away.

While the city and department refuse to confirm specifics, a source told Local 10 News that the latest incident allegedly involved Bigwood’s conduct off duty involving fellow co-workers at a going away party.

Bigwood has been in this spot before.

According to records obtained by Local 10 News, in 2010, Bigwood sent “inappropriate sexually explicit texts,” including pictures of his genitals to an alleged confidential informant during a criminal investigation.

He was fired, but got his job back through arbitration.

And, more surprisingly, the department placed him in the training division where he was responsible for training new officers.

In 2015, Bigwood was arrested after being charged with violating a restraining order. According to records, he admitted to showing up to his ex-wife’s home intoxicated.

A police report said he was banging on the door. He plead no contest to criminal trespass.

According to an affidavit obtained by Local 10 News, Bigwood’s ex-wife wrote:

“I left Michael due to violence where he pulled a firearm on me and threatened to kill me and our children.”

His wife said he has sent her over 100 texts and called her 50 times. She said that in 2014, he grabbed her and threw her out of his pickup truck in front of one of their children.

“I am worried about the safety of our children,” she said according to the affidavit.

Bigwood was fired again, fought the second termination and through arbitration, he was reinstated again, working his way up the ranks to lieutenant in the criminal investigations unit.

“It shows his decision making and judgement is completely skewed,” said Andrew Scott, a police consultant, who has spent 30 years in law enforcement. He worked in North Miami, North Miami Beach and was chief of the Boca Raton Police Department and is also a court mediator.

We asked him: “You were a police chief for years. Is this someone you’d want in your department?”

Scott responded: “Absolutely not. Under no circumstances.”

While binding arbitration often ties a city’s hands, Scott is troubled based on Bigwood’s history that he was able to be promoted.

“He’s proceeded to be promoted through the ranks into very responsible positions,” said Scott.

Local 10 News wanted to talk to Constance Stanley, the police chief of Lauderhill.

Instead the city released a statement.

“Although the City of Lauderhill terminated Lieutenant Bigwood on two prior occasions, he was twice reinstated, pursuant to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. . . Based on the arbitrators’ findings on both occasions, Lieutenant Bigwood was ordered to be fully reinstated to his prior positions and was therefore eligible for promotions thereafter.”

Scott said, “Unions are important, but sometimes they lose sight of the fact, although they try to defend their officers, there are people they are defending that should not be police officers and it is to the detriment of the general public.”

According to the city, Bigwood is on administrative leave with pay.

It is important to point out that the latest investigation is not being done by the department, but by an outside investigator so there are no conflicts.

The city is awaiting the outcome of the current investigation.


About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.