Fruitland Park Police and the KKK

A policing story getting lots of national attention involves the Fruitland Park Police Department in Florida and alleged connections with the white supremacist group: The Ku Klux Klan.

Here is a summary of what is being reported:
  • In 2009, Fruitland Park Officer James Elkins resigned after his estranged wife, Pamela Elkins (now Pamela Ellingsworth), made his Klan ties public. 

  • Last week, Officer George Hunnewell was fired and deputy chief David Borst resigned from the Fruitland Park Police Department after accusations were made that they had connections to the Klan as well

  • George Hunnewell's ex-wife, Ann Hunnewell, stated to investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that in 2010 she and George had been working undercover to infiltrate a local chapter of the KKK. She said that the undercover operation had been commissioned by then Fruitland Park Police Chief James Isom to learn more about now fired officer James Elkins' activities. Ms. Hunnewell stated that she and George joined the KKK only as part of the investigation and reported all information to Isom. She said that she and her then husband never participated in any function or activity beyond their initiation, but added she has no documentation to verify the undercover work.

  • Former Chief James Isom, who is no longer permitted to be a police officer in Florida after he pled guilty to a criminal charge in 2010 that is unrelated to this issue, provided a sworn statement to authorities to the effect that he never organized an undercover operation of the KKK involving George or Ann Hunnewell. 

  • The allegations against former deputy chief David Borst appear to be hearsay. He vehemently denies the accusations against him, and told authorities that he resigned his position to protect his family from embarrassment.
Who is lying?

How integrated is/was the KKK into this small 13-member Florida police department?

Confused?

I sure am.

I am not sure the Fruitland Park Police Department will be able to regain the trust of the people. It sounds like they may need to shut the place down--as the agency will now likely be bombarded by challenges to past criminal investigations and new civil litigation.

As to the story--rather than depending on media translations of official reports, I always try to find the originals so that I can examine them myself.

For those interested, I did find the released report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about their investigation. In it, the testimony provided by Pamela Ellingsworth and Ann Hunnewell (or Ann Garner) is detailed.

You can access that report by clicking on this link and being redirected to a television station's site.

20 comments:

Mary Kirkland said...

Wow, I had to read that twice in order to keep it all straight. Confused is right.

Bijoux said...

Disturbing.

Pat Hatt said...

Wow, they are totally screwed. Definitely need to shut down. Plus anyone with real ties to the KKK are morons to begin with.

joeh said...

I guess you should never go under cover without documentation to confirm your real motive.

Or maybe they are lying.

Miranda Hardy said...

Yes, I've been reading about this. Very confusing though.

messymimi said...

Not only am i sad for the people of that town, who now don't know whom to trust in local law enforcement, but i also feel for any officers who had no Klan ties and wanted to simply do a good job for the people of Fruitland Park. They will always be suspect, through no fault of their own except that they worked here.

Stephanie Faris said...

Confusing, yes--but even more perplexing is the fact that the KKK continues to exist at all. How sad that people feel such hatred toward their fellow man. You have to wonder what they might do with all of that energy if they channeled it into something productive. Like building a school or helping with charity work. Bring good into the world...when you fill your life with hatred, you lead a miserable existence.

Bob G. said...

SLamdunk:
I agree that the trust of the people will most likely be the MOST elusive thing to catch in that town for quite some time.
Damn shame, too.
I am wondering why it fell to the LOCAL level to "infiltrate" the KKK when surely, this could have been handed off to a FEDERAL agency easily enough.
Very odd.

Stay safe out there.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Can you just shut down a police department?

Slamdunk said...

@ Donna: Thanks for the question--sure. Multiple factors make it more complex depending on the situation, but in the NE, it is not uncommon for law enforcement agencies (especially small ones) to be closed or consolidated--usually the driver is cost though and not scandal.

Gloria Baker said...

Ugh! Really confusing; I can't believe still KKK continue exists, terrible!
But I heard it is.

Clarissa Draper said...

I read about this! Yeah, I think you're right, the department will not be able to gain the trust of the people again. It's hard to know who to trust.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Oh what a mess. Lost trust indeed!

Diane Estrella said...

The KKK is alive and well apparently. Sad.

lisa said...

This story was in our newspaper as well. I'm sure this is not the sort of publicity the town really wants! The only thing certain is that someone is lying. So….who has the most to gain from us believing the lie?

Carol Kilgore said...

I have a feeling there's a lot more to this than meets the eye. And it probably has long tentacles.

Chrys Fey said...

I live in Florida and I've heard about this, but you gave me a lot more information. I wonder how this is going to end...

Secret Agent Woman said...

Whatever the truth is, it doesn't sound good. I know there is still some amount of Klan activity here because I've seen them demonstrating. Creepy.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, dear. How sad. And yes, confusing.

BobKat said...

Greetings Slam...

I am not going to watch the news right now that you posted a link to. Rather, I want to comment on your post.

You provided no answers which in this case is noteworthy as apparently the truth is difficult to find. You did an excellent job telling the story.

Based on your story, to me this highlights our failure in this country to have established a way to systematically investigate allegations and suspicions. law-makers have for too long been diverting law enforcement to "drug interdiction's", marijuana mostly, and not putting enough effort into getting a handle on the society we really are - most of us really good people.

If I sound like a broken record, then you know my frustration with law-makers.