Florida officer disciplined after watching seven-hour court hearing on Zoom while on duty

By Austen Erblat

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A veteran police officer was disciplined after spending most of a shift watching a colleague’s divorce court hearing on Zoom, the Boca Raton Police Department said.

Officer Robert Cohen told internal affairs investigators he didn’t think it would interfere with his work. But investigators say he violated multiple department and city policies.

Cohen, who has been with the Boca Raton Police Department since 2008, received counseling as discipline, a department spokesman said.

The incident happened April 19, when Cohen spent seven hours on his personal iPad and phone listening to a remote Zoom court hearing involving another Boca Police employee’s divorce hearing.

Cohen is in the marine unit. That day, he said he had followed up on a sunken-boat investigation and attended meetings in preparation for the Boca bash.

“He felt like it didn’t hinder him in doing his duties,” the investigators’ report said. “He felt it was no different than monitoring a city council meeting or collective bargaining agreement meeting.”

But the investigation found that Cohen violated policies including a prohibition on conducting private business.

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