Police Chief Blames Florida Deputy's COVID-19 Death On 'Homosexual Lifestyle'

Holly Matkin

Davie Police Chief Dale Engle allegedly made the comments about Broward Sheriff's Deputy Shannon Bennett on April 7.

Davie, FL – A Florida police chief attempted to minimize his officers’ concerns about the risks of contracting COVID-19 by alleging that a Broward sheriff’s deputy who died from the disease contracted the novel coronavirus because he was a “homosexual who attended homosexual sexual events, according to multiple officers.

Davie Police Chief Dale Engle, 56, was placed on administrative leave on Saturday evening after the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Labor Council Committee filed an official complaint with the city over his comments, the Miami Herald reported.

The incident occurred at the Davie’s Police Department (DPD) on April 7, after officers expressed concerns about whether or not they would be covered by their health insurance plans if they were to contract COVID-19.

Chief Engle allegedly launched into an angry tirade during the patrol briefing, the Miami Herald reported.

During his outburst, Chief Engle “proclaimed that [Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Bennett] contracted and died from the virus because he was a “homosexual who attended homosexual sexual events,’” according to the FOP’s complaint.

“He intimated that it was because of the homosexual lifestyle that Deputy Bennett first contracted a serious underlying disease which aggravated the Covid-19 virus and lead to his death,” the FOP noted.

Chief Engle then ordered the officers to line up for an inspection – a directive they hadn’t received since they attended the law enforcement academy, the Miami Herald reported.

The officers said that the forced inspection was an intimidation tactic.

FOP Chief of Staff Michael Tucker said that several of the officers were stunned by Chief Engle’s behavior and his comments about Deputy Bennett.

“Multiple officers expressed shock at the way that the chief not only conducted the briefing but obviously of his remarks, which left most of the officers speechless,” Tucker told the Miami Herald. “Really utter shock that the chief would attempt to minimize the risk to everyone and especially first responders by trying to draw a link between what happened to Deputy Bennett tragically and his sexual orientation.”

In an email to his staff, Chief Engle said that his words were “taken out of context” and that he did not intend for them to be offensive.

“I made comments concerning the death of BSO Deputy Bennett as reported in the local media. These comments were relative to COVID-19 and personal protective equipment,” the Chief wrote, according to the Miami Herald.

“My intent was to provide as much information to personnel as possible,” he added. “If my comments were taken out of context, they were not intended to be derogatory.”

Miami Fraternal Order of Police President Tommy Reyes said that Chief Engle’s alleged comments disrespected Deputy Bennett and all those who cared about him.

Deputy Bennett, 39, began feeling ill while on duty on March 23, so he went off shift early that day, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a press release.

On March 24, he went to the hospital, where he was tested for the novel coronavirus.

The test came back positive on March 27, according to the BSO.

“He was showing signs of recovery, and it turned for the worse last night,” Sheriff Tony told WSVN on April 4.

“His white blood cells started to go back up,” explained Deputy Bennett’s brother, Darren Bennett. “The fever went down, wasn’t coming back, but apparently his heart couldn’t take the work that had ensued over the course of that time, so he died peacefully in his sleep.”

Deputy Bennett succumbed to complications of COVID-19 just before midnight on April 3, Sheriff Tony told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Deputy Bennett, a 12-year veteran-of-the-force, contracted the novel coronavirus “in the line of duty,” the sheriff added.

“Shannon was my friend, a good man, and he loved his family, friends and his soon-to-be husband,” Reyes told the Miami Herald. “Chief Engle’s comments are disrespectful not only to Shannon, but everyone who loved him.”

“It was disrespectful to the entire LGBTQ community and his own officers,” the FOP president continued. “He should be ashamed of himself for his lack of professionalism and compassion for others.”

Deputy Bennett’s fiancé, Jonathan Frey, issued a statement denouncing Chief Engel’s alleged comments on Saturday, according to WPLG.

“The Chief’s alleged comments are completely false, homophobic, and slanderous,” Frey said. “I look forward to the fair and impartial investigation initiated by the Town Manager, and I hope that appropriate action will be taken at its conclusion.”

Orlando Gonzales, the executive director of a LGBTQ group in South Florida, said that Chief Engle’s comments “fuel discrimination and stigma against LGBTQ people,” when his focus should have been on “addressing the health and safety of the police officers serving on the front line of a public health crisis,” the Miami Herald reported.

“Chief Engle’s approach to addressing the safety concerns of the police officers that serve under his command is exemplary of someone that is unfit for the Chief of Police role,” Gonzales said. “It’s clear that the actions he takes and speaks are homophobic and toxic for the workplace.”

“Chief Engle chose to make the death of BSO Deputy Shannon Bennett an opportunity for him to fuel discrimination and stigma against LGBT people instead of focusing on addressing the health and safety of the police officers serving on the front-line of a public health crisis,” he added. “His leadership and priorities are misaligned for a person in public safety.”

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said that if investigators determine that Chief Engle actually made the alleged comments about his fallen deputy, then he would consider those comments to be both homophobic and offensive, WTVJ reported.

"It would be lack of decency and character to make such a suggestion because there’s no accurate information out there that would support such a notion," Sheriff Tony said. "And it would only be something done under derogatory aspect, which would be offensive to me and this agency."

Chief Engle did not respond to the Miami Herald’s requests for comment.

On Saturday night, Davie Town Administrator Richard Lemack confirmed that Chief Engle has been placed on administrative leave, WPLG reported.

“Police Chief Dale Engle was placed on Administrative leave pending further review of allegations brought forward by the Fraternal Order of Police,” Lemack said in a written statement. “The allegations will be investigated in accordance with the Town’s Equal Employment Opportunity compliance policy by outside counsel.”

“The Town will have no further comment until the investigation is completed to protect the integrity of all involved,” he added.

Comments (45)
No. 1-26
Shastabeau
Shastabeau

He could have contracted it then, or going to a restaurant, getting in a elevator, buying groceries, wrestling someone infected.......was a dumb ass thing to say.......

reverett456117502
reverett456117502

In 2020, not a bright thing for a Police Chief to say.......this isn't 1960, get over it!!!! His sexual preference should not have entered into any discussion or even been mentioned. How would the Chief have liked if his wife told the world he was impotent?

Golobki
Golobki

Did he have any underlying health issues like diabetes, high bloid pressure?

Golobki
Golobki

March 11, 2020 headline in Reuters News:
"LGBT+ Community At Heightened Risk of Corona Virus, Groups Warn"

Story by George Lopez reports that LAMBDA Legal and GLAAD called on US public health officials to address "heightened vulnerability" of gay and trans people to the virus because "frequently weakened immune systems" puts them at greater risk.

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

I don't care what an officer's sexuality is.... homo, hetero, trans, whatever. he died in the line of duty from COVID-19. This Police chief should be terminated by the city council from his inappropriate comments. anything less is unacceptable.

Backing Blue
Backing Blue

Chief should no longer have his job what an asshole

Gramercy
Gramercy

Chief Engle was TOTALLY OUT OF LINE! No way around it! I concur with the termination for the comments as they show his social bend toward others..and that attitude does not have to be on ANY police force.

Popcop.M1
Popcop.M1

According to the fake COVID-19 death toll numbers the chances of his death being misclassified are well over 90%. If he was into the gay sleeze scene chances are he may have died from a STD and they just wrote it up as Covid-19. Medical personnel from everywhere are reporting these occurances. Either way it's inappropriate for a Boss to make such statements.

Truth Man 102
Truth Man 102

Chief Jerkoff

Please do your community and the Officers in the Davie Police Department the justice they deserve. RESIGN. You have lost the faith of those around you in your “leadership” abilities. You have probably been a “house mouse’ your entire career and have no idea how to deal with people or any clue what it actually takes to be a cop.

See ya chump! Move on.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

#LODD #yourlifemattered

NFPD103
NFPD103

"deputy Bennett succumbed to complications of COVID-19 just before midnight on April 3," That's different than dying of COVID-19 there were underlying medical issues for him being sick. which may be the cause of death. which if that's the case then yes the officers would not have to be overly concerned about having been in close contact with the deputy for regular law enforcement calls for service. now depending on how individual officers reacted would depend on their political point of view on the subject of LGBTQ political action. Or Now the Standing inspection issue may be the real issue here driving the complaint of the officers and the first issue is the touch that sets the fire and provides cover.

Badge204
Badge204

Typical of our current administration.
Times have changed.
This is not the 60s nor 70s.
Then you could not have a tattoo showing. If you were civil service, and taking 1% percent from military service connected injury. No job.
So sad. Fire his a....

Det64
Det64

This Chief should be removed immediately from his position. According to this report he has violated so many LEO guidelines not only
sadly to Deputy Bennet but also to the other officers in which he ordered a force inspection of the officers in the meeting
Was this a ... Uniform Inspected ?
Taking their temperatures to see if they had fevers ? Please do tell !!!

In all my 30 years being a LEO wife and all the political leaders within the department and myself in the medical field.

I have never felt so disgusted as I do after reading this article .

Our condolences and love go out to
Deputy Bennett’s Family and Friends 🙏

I PRAY THEY FIRE HIS ASS !!!

ChasingYesterday
ChasingYesterday

Just like HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 doesn't discriminate....unlike Chief Engle.

Rascal1966
Rascal1966

Many people have died from this virus!! Different ages, races, professions and sexual orientation you freaking dumb ass!! Viruses don't discriminate!!

Stanracer
Stanracer

Resign!

fuzz2239
fuzz2239

Everybody's immune system is different and any virus attacks each differently. Air pollution can lower resistance to the virus as other factors such as age and medical history. Ignorance is no defense against stupidity so in this case, Chief airhead should resign.

Justiceforallalways
Justiceforallalways

Chief Idiot should be his new name. He should be terminated for cause immediately and never ever work in law enforcement against.

jobett77
jobett77

As a Chief, what he had said is simply showing failure of leadership. Trying to blame it on a lame excuse. Take the hit, and face the consequences, he failed big time. Better resign.

debluvzcats
debluvzcats

Nobody should act that way after a person dies.
It's that type of attitude that makes it impossible for some people to lovingly disagree with the lifestyle.

mcsd1106
mcsd1106

Do the right thing, Chief and step down. What an ignorant statement to make.

Cstuartsr
Cstuartsr

First of all judging that man and making those comments should cost that idiot dearly, next if the Officers are saying he said that and he basically admitted he said it then there is no need for and investigation. He should be terminated immediately!! Even if you don’t agree with his lifestyle it’s still none of his business especially to comment to his officers. I hope his family makes him pay dearly!!

Motor141
Motor141

What an idiot, it’s time for you too move on...😳!

Blueblood16
Blueblood16

Chief Engle is a disgusting pig who should be ashamed of himself but he would have to be human and have a conscience. He gives all good LEO'S a bad rep.

PatrolandNarc
PatrolandNarc

Chief "Thou doth protest too much"

Luscious775
Luscious775

How very stupid of a thing to say. The deputy’s pic shows a decent man with a lovely smile. Why does it matter being gay, straight or bi etc. im sure his family is really hurting right now so prayers for them. Besides that look at the Chiefs pic he totally looks gay himself!


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