New Port Richey, Florida: Monday, April 4, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco announced that a former child protective investigator had been arrested.
29-year-old Jennifer Lewis, who had been employed by the Department of Children and Families for about five years, resigned from her post in March 2021 after a trainee reported to her supervisor that there were problems with some of her files.
"Her role was to protect children," Nocco stated during a press conference. "It's probably one of the toughest roles in our agency. Jennifer Lewis failed in those responsibilities."
On two occasions, the trainee noted that Lewis indicated that she had met with individuals when no such meeting had taken place.
"The trainee came forward and said to her supervisor, 'There is a problem here. This does not match up,'" Nocco explained, adding that Lewis resigned "very quickly" thereafter.
"We applaud the trainee that immediately alerted supervisors to the CPI's falsifications," Nocco said.
As a part of the investigation, the sheriff's office reviewed 27 case files that Lewis had been assigned to. It determined that while there were discrepancies noted, nothing, so far, indicated that children were in danger or harmed as a result.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, an additional 62 cases that Lewis had closed during her time as an employee are being reviewed. This process involves re-interviewing each person Lewis reported having contact with in her reports. At this time, investigators have not found signs of possible harm.
Going forward Nocco announced plans for CPI investigators to wear body-work cameras while on the job.
"Unfortunately, we're human being and we make mistakes- none of us walk on water," Nocco said. "We can make honest mistakes, but you can't do thing purposefully that could put people in harm's way. That's one thing the Pasco Sheriff's Office will not stand for."
Lewis has been charged with two counts of felony falsifying and altering Department of Children and Families' documents. She was arrested on Friday and booked into the county jail. Two hours later, she bonded out of custody.
Her next court date is not indicated in the court records at this time.