Child Protective Investigator Charged with Lying on Reports - Nocco: "They will wear body cams"
Last updated 4/29/2022 at 3:46am
PASCO – A child protective investigator is facing felony charges after officials say she lied about conducting case interviews.
According to Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco, 29-year-old Jennifer Lewis was arrested Friday and charged with two-counts of Altering Department of Children and Families documents. Nocco says a trainee working under Lewis noticed several discrepancies in Lewis's reports. According to the trainee, Lewis would leave her business card where scheduled interviews were to take place and then notate that she met with those individuals when she did not.
Nocco praised the employee for coming forward, stating, "In today's world it's good to have people that are morally and ethically strong. You know, they're not going to blow away in the wind and go with whatever way things are going. They're going to stand firm and have a backbone and say this is wrong and I'm going to stop it."
Lewis worked for PCO from January 2016 until March of 2021, when she resigned after Major Case Detectives confronted her about the discrepancies.
Nocco emphasized the critical nature of a CPI investigator's job, stating, "A major part of their job is to go out there and interview and make sure you go to a judge and make sure a kid's safe or to say that a kid's not safe and we have to do something about it." Nocco continues, "Jennifer Lewis failed in those responsibilities. What she was putting in her report was not accurate to what happened."
Nocco says they reviewed a total of 89 past cases, and they found that no children were harmed.
Nocco touted a 6-year success of the agency's body cam policy and says they are now prepared to implement them with all 49 CPI investigators. "We were the first in Tampa Bay to have body warn cameras." Nocco explains, "You know it's that partnership with the community that they recognize when we're wrong, we're wrong, and when we're right, we're right." Nocco continues, 'You know, unfortunately, people do make false allegations against our CPIs, and so we want to make sure they are protected the same way our citizens are protected."
To date, Hillsborough County, Tampa Police, Pinellas County, St. Petersburg Police, and Pasco County all use body warn cameras. Citrus County is in the process of developing a program. Sheriff Al Nienhuis of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office is the only Sheriff who refuses to consider body warn cams for his agency in the Tampa Bay Area.
Lewis is free on a $5,000 bond.