By Dan Moffett
Not everyone in the South Palm Beach Police Department made the transition to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office this month.
On Aug. 30, South Palm patrol Officer Jose Miguel Fernandez resigned from the department, facing misdemeanor charges of stalking and installing a GPS tracking device that were brought by the sheriff’s deputies he had hoped to join. The town suspended Fernandez shortly after he was booked and posted a $500 bond at Palm Beach County Jail on Aug. 28. Fernandez is contesting the charges against him, and court records show he has a hearing scheduled for Nov. 1.
“The South Palm Beach Police Department holds its employees to a high standard and this is a complete breach of trust to the residents of South Palm Beach,” said outgoing Police Chief Mark Garrison, who became a sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office when the sheriff took over his department on Oct. 1.
The charges against Fernandez grew out of a complaint Garrison received in July from a resident who said he found a GPS device on his wife’s vehicle. The husband told police his wife had a yearlong affair with Fernandez. He said the affair had ended and his wife believed the officer since then was using the device to follow her.
Garrison turned the investigation over to the Sheriff’s Office. According to a sheriff’s report, deputies traced the GPS tracker to Fernandez and interviewed him at his home on Aug. 16.
Fernandez told the deputies, the report said, that he had purchased the device and admitted putting it on the woman’s vehicle. He told investigators he did it because he was concerned about retribution from the woman’s husband. He denied stalking the woman.
South Palm Beach hired Fernandez, 50, in November 2016. Before coming to the town he worked three years as a patrol officer next door in Manalapan. Before that he spent 21 years with the New York City Police Department, according to his employment application with the town, retiring with the rank of lieutenant.
Fernandez, who is originally from the borough of Queens, said on his application he completed three years of criminal justice study at Empire State University.