I-Team: Officer Abuses Badge At Miami Airport
CBS4 I-Team investigator Stephen Stock spent weeks uncovering who did it and why.
A Miami-Dade police Disciplinary Action Report says Miami-Dade Police Canine Officer Farah Lormestoir improperly got onto international Air France flight #3959 going to Haiti on April 14th carrying insect repellant.
You can read the entire DAR and attachments by clicking on this link.
The I-Team found Officer Lormestoir leaving for work, after six weeks of unsuccessfully trying to find her on the job at Miami International Airport.
What’s the problem with insect repellant?
“They’ve proven in the past that they can explode if they are improperly stored,” said aviation security consultant James “Jim” Butler.
“That was a security issue,” security consultant Butler told the I-Team. “I mean, first of all, the bizarre, crazy behavior, how do you know you’re dealing with a police officer. It’s totally bizarre. (It’s) frightening to tell the truth.”
According to the disciplinary action report and three sources, including two in law enforcement and one at Air France, Officer Lormestoir didn’t exactly smuggle the bug repellant on board.
Those sources say she forced the repellant on board the plane using her badge and her uniform to hold up the flight.
“It’s extremely obnoxious,” said Jim Butler. “It’s threatening, it’s coercion, you name it. And (it is) misuse of a uniform.”
Most of us are banned from carrying onto airplanes aerosol cans and liquid containers with more than 3.5 ounces in them without going through security.
And several aviation security experts tell us these seemingly harmless items had the potential to put everyone on that flight at risk.
“They cause quite an explosion,” Jim Bulter said of aerosol cans and other containers. “(There is) a lot of compressed air inside those containers. It can be deadly.”
Jim Butler has put in more than 40 years in law enforcement.
“It’s a misuse of the badge, you could lose your job,” said security consultant Butler.
Butler now serves as a security consultant at Wayne Black Associates, serving international law firms, corporations and financial institutions.
“What happens if, God forbid, that person was an imposter and the canister used deadly force,” Jim Butler said.
The report and our sources tell the I-Team that Lormestoir carried the mosquito repellant on board literally as the plane was about to pull away from the gate. Officer Lormestoir then gave the repellant to a fellow police officer who was already seated on the plane traveling to Haiti.
Then our sources say Lormestoir threatened both an Air France crew member and pilot if they didn’t get out of her way.
“I’d be very interested in the discipline problem,” said Jim Butler.
But two different law enforcement sources tell the I-Team that the disciplinary action report was not completed until after we began asking questions and investigating the incident.
Though Officer Lormestoir refused our offers to tell her side of the story, she did give a written statement to her police superiors on May 21st. In the statement Lormestoir said she carried hand sanitizer and Off Woods wipes, not aerosol cans of repellant to the door of the plane. She denies being rude or threatening the Air France crew.
Even so, aviation security consultant Butler as well as two high placed law enforcement sources tell the I-Team that it really doesn’t matter exactly what it was that officer Lormestoir forced on board that aircraft. It was the way she did it, as well as the abuse of her position that troubles them the most.
“I’m really surprised with the captain of the airplane tolerating that,” Butler said. “It was nothing to get on his radio and communicate to the terminal, ‘Send the police, I’ve got a situation.'”
I-Team investigator Stephen Stock replied “But she was the police.”
“I understand what you’re saying,” Butler said. “But there is no excuse for it.”
In fact, despite her story, officer Lormestoir’s superiors at Miami-Dade Police department found her in violation of 4 department rules:
1) Conduct unbecoming an officer
2) Failing to file an accurate police report
3) Discourteous conduct to the public
4) Abuse of her position as a police officer.
TSA investigated this incident but determined no federal laws were violated.
After more than a month of back and forth investigation, Lormestoir’s superiors gave her a written reprimand. The report said other, progressive discipline would follow similar incidents in the future.
Several aviation experts both in the federal government and in private industry tell the I-Team they are surprised Officer Lormestoir still works at the airport.
Her supervisors did not return our requests for comment about the incident.