In what may seem as the most bizarre situation, a police officer from Boynton Beach who in 2010 was singled out as the “Officer of the Year” has been indicted for conspiring to possess and traffic 500 grams of methamphetamine. The indictment accuses David Britto, 28, of drug dealing from June 2009 until March 4, 2011. According to U.S. Attorney Wilfredo A. Ferrer, Officer Britto faces a potential life sentence if convicted. The Chief of Police, Matthew Immler, released a statement saying, “The Boynton Beach Police Department vigorously polices itself, and this case is an example of how law enforcement roots out corruption from within its own ranks.”
Officer Britto was named Officer of the Year in January for having helped to identify a man suspected of shooting two street preachers and for performing CPR on a 2-year-old girl who almost drowned in her family’s swimming pool in November, among other things. “I saw the little baby on the ground and started praying,” Officer Britto had said when recounting his life-saving effort. Spoken in the words of Officer Britto before they were tainted by this drug stint, he described how at one point at the beginning of last year, he took out a pen and a piece of paper and wrote down that on every call he wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. “It is nice to be recognized when you have really tried your best,” he said upon receiving the Officer of the Year honor. “This only motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing and reach my goals.” Among the other feats he accomplished, records show that in 2010 Britto worked 11 burglaries resulting in 19 arrests and 18 narcotic cases leading to 25 arrests. Also, in 2008 Britto was one of three Boynton Beach police officers who fired 23 shots into a stolen Dodge Caravan as the vehicle’s driver tried to run them down. He managed to stop the moving vehicle while leaving every one of the seven suspects in the van unscathed.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement database, Officer Britto has been a Boynton Beach police officer since September 2006, and his suspected misbehavior was caught in an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) led by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. According to a DEA Miami Special Agent in Charge, “the decision to deal drugs while carrying a badge is not only a breach of the law enforcement oath, but a community tragedy as well.” The Chief of Police also echoed that sentiment in his statement: “We realize that when an officer stands accused of a violation of the public trust, all of law enforcement pays the price in eroded citizen confidence and the perception of diminished integrity.” After all, given the immense trust one places on the law enforcement body, it is always disheartening to realize an officer has fallen into the drug trap after being caught red-handed.