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For One Rookie Deputy, 2 Totaled Patrol Cars and 2 Internal Investigations in 13 Months

| January 21, 2016

jonathan kuleski

Jonathan Kuleski was hired by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office in August 2014.

For a rookie, Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy Jonathan Kuleski has had a busy and somewhat calamitous first year on the job: he’s totaled two patrol cars, both times in what the sheriff’s office ruled were preventable crashes. And he’s been the subject of two internal affairs investigations. He was cleared of wrongdoing in one. He was found in violation of a department policy in the latest one, completed on the last day of 2015—not driving his patrol car carefully and prudently.

The sheriff’s office’s Dec. 31 finding underscores a recurring complaint of residents around town: that cops at times drive recklessly, endangering other drivers. Such complaints are usually anecdotal and undocumented, the result of brief but elusive sightings of speeding patrol cars. The Kuleski case documents one such instance and shows to what extent the department analyses those instances, at least when one of its vehicles is damaged beyond repair.

Kuleski, 22, was hired at the sheriff’s office on Aug. 20, 2014. He’d previously worked with the Bunnell Police Department.

Last May, he was involved in a crash that totaled a patrol car and that a department crash review determined to have been preventable. He was assessed remedial training. A month earlier, he was involved in a policing case that resulted in his first Internal Affairs investigation. Deputies had responded to a noise complaint in a wooded lot in Palm Coast’s W Section, at Wood Aspen and Wood Acre lanes. When they got there, they discovered a drinking party of about “15 young adults listening th music and drinking alcoholic beverages,” among them Kuleski. No arrests were made as Kuleski and others said everyone was of legal drinking age. Kuleski, who was still on probation as a new hire, told deputies at the time that he was unaware that the gathering was on private property, otherwise he’d not have gone there, he said.

An Internal Affairs investigation completed on June 28 cleared Kuleski of wrongdoing. The road incident that led to the second Internal Affairs investigation took place less than three months later, on Sept. 19.

Kuleski was working the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift in Zone 4, which includes the W Section. He lives in Zone 5, which includes the Seminole Woods area. At 3:34 a.m., he checked out at his home, in Zone 5. Two minutes later he was dispatched to a suspicious person call on Wynnfield Drive. But he did not leave his house until 3:42. He would later tell investigators that he was out of his zone and delayed responding to the call because he was using the bathroom at his house.

Leaving his house, he traveled through the Seminole Woods area to U.S. 1, then to White View Parkway, where the crash took place. As he drove up U.S. 1, the interval investigation showed based on GPS reports obtained from the patrol car, “he reached speeds in the upper 70 to lower and upper 80 miles per hour.” The posted speed limit along the way is 60. When he turned onto White View, where the speed limit is 45, his speeds were 59 to 62 just before the crash, the investigation showed. It had been raining throughout his shift. At 3:55 a.m., he crashed.

In his testimony to investigators, the report states, Kuleski “said when he approached the area near the church he went to turn his defoggers off. He said he leaned forward and his foot slipped due to all the rain they had.”

Kuleski elaborated in comments to the Flagler sheriff’s deputy who investigated the crash: “While changing the air conditioner settings which require me to move my entire body slightly forward due to my vest and belt which require my seat to be farther back for me to fit into my vehicle comfortably,” he said, his foot “”slipped while it was on the brake causing me to brake harder than normal.”

According to the internal investigation, Kuleski said “he went off the edge and hydroplaned a little bit. He said after spinning out he tried to gain control of the vehicle but couldn’t due to the puddles and rain water. He said he had to make a choice of going into the ditch or towards the median.” But he acknowledged driving too fast. When an investigator asked him if he’d screwed up, Kuleski said he had, but that he’d learned his lesson.

Kuleski was not hurt in the crash. “This recent crash was the second one for Deputy J. Kuleski within a year where both vehicles were a total loss for the agency,” the internal investigation concluded before finding that he had violated the agency’s standards of conduct under the section controlling driving: “Personnel shall operate official vehicles in a careful and prudent manner, and shall obey all laws and all agency orders pertaining to such operation.”

The consequences for Kuleski’s latest crash have not been determined. “It is out for a disciplinary recommendation,” a sheriff’s spokesperson said Thursday.

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28 Responses for “For One Rookie Deputy, 2 Totaled Patrol Cars and 2 Internal Investigations in 13 Months”

  1. Pete says:

    That’s some expensive on the job training!

  2. April Hamilton says:

    Flaglerlive, as I have heard before, must we not forget ” The Pen is Mightier than the Sword!” This is a young deputy whom I have had help me in a time of need. I had my vehicle stolen from my house and if not for him I would not have said vehicle back in my possession. We have just lost two young people in our community, with that being said we should support our youth and guild in a time of need not blast OLD information to the masses to judge because there is nothing better for you to report. This is a young man that at the end of the day puts his life on the line for the safety of you, me and the rest of the community have some respect and try to report all of the positive things our FCSO does for this community.


    It seems this deputy is a disaster — or perhaps tragedy — waiting to happen.

  4. 30 year Cop says:

    The good news is that this is Manfre’s last year as soon there will be a new Sheriff in town.

  5. Linda says:

    Please get rid of him. While there are mature 22 year olds, as our armed forces have proven throughout history, this guy is not one of them. He should not be empowered by a badge. He doesn’t understand the consequences of his behavior. I wouldn’t want him at my doorstep in a time of need because his short history shows that he doesn’t understand the importance of his work, and will continue to make mistakes. I don’t want to be one of them, and don’t want anyone else to be either.

  6. steve miller says:

    Time to let him go!

  7. Markingthedays says:

    Sounds like the county should be looking for a new deputy.

  8. jp says:

    Sounds like he sucks at his job!, and maybe police works is not his thing. Police works is an awesome responsibility, and requires one to live an “attention to detail” life 24/7….most cant handle the pressures, and can tell early on in ones career. signed Retired Military Police

  9. confidential says:

    This deputy needs his papers..
    Speeding without motive around our neighborhoods, totaling two cruisers and loud partying and drinking in our neighborhoods causing nuisance a violation of our city ordinances on vacant lots should be enough reason for dismissal. Let Sheriff Manfre do his work and lay off this deputy…should have already done it.
    This kid needs to get fired under reason of need of total re-training and afterwards apply to work elsewhere in Florida as the way I see it he has too much conflict of interest working in his city of residence and near his home with too many drinking buddies around Palm Coast. Too dangerous for this community.

  10. Bc says:

    It seems like this offer is not mature enough to be out on patrol, maybe a desk job And some driving lessons

  11. Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

    Guys, he’s young. He needs a second chance. And a third. And a fourth. And a fifth. And a sixth. And a seventh…

  12. Dan O says:

    Driving skills are learned in TIME….I don’t care if you Agent 47: Hitman…if you under 40 you driving skills SUCK !!!!!

  13. Igato Takalika says:

    If that was Duane Weeks he would have gotten ten years.

  14. Retired says:

    To bad the lynch mob is out for this deputy. GOOD Deputy, just YOUNG!

  15. Sadie S says:

    Who is this officer related to within the county government? Must be someone with lots of political muscle for him to still be employed. If he is not fired an investigation need to be undertaken to find out why.

  16. theevoice says:

    who is hiring these morons? along with the cop who let the drunk girl go, only to have a dui death minutes later..just wait until the county has to settle those lawsuits, and people wonder where our property tax money goes..this is just a pathetic sheriffs office and has been for the 8 years i have lived here!!!!

  17. outrage says:

    April how disgusting is your comment? You should not use two young ladies suicides to try n guilt people from doing the right thing. Good job Flagler Live for keeping us safe from the wrong do-ers we give power too that are suppose keep us safe

  18. confidential says:

    I settle for a less punishing disciplinary action like the excellent one suggested above, a desk non street job and re training from the ground up.

  19. Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

    Sadie, this is business as usual in a police department. A lot of good ole boy politics, looking the other way, sweet deals, few consequences, and most criminal acts being handled as job infractions.

  20. LawAbidingCitizen says:

    the difference is Weeks is a convicted felon, and consistently making headlines for causing trouble….

  21. LawAbidingCitizen says:

    @ Dan O
    so on my 40th Bday, I will be considered a “good driver”??? Where do you come up with this

  22. Common Sense says:

    There are way too many young officers on the force and all have been put there by Manfre. I don’t see where this officer has done anything to warrant his reputation and career to end but if his judgment continues to show he isn’t responsible and unable to exercise good judgment then yes hd needs to go. I am upset about his claim he didn’t know the drinking and partying was on private property…he certainly can tell the difference between public and private and if he thought it,was public hd should have been concerned why there was such activity going on in a public place and should have recogonized no public officials were there. One the other hand I believe a issue was made out of a non issue. Anyone can have an accident…that is what insurance is for.

  23. Howard Duley says:

    If this is the best junk Flagler can put out I’ll protect myself with my own guns. When I was in high school I had complete faith in my home town police. I don’t have that same respect for the county law.

  24. Rich Mikola says:

    Maybe a walking beat at the town hall lake at night for a few months will straighten this lad out!!

  25. Linda says:

    Agreed. Good point.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I want a draw of members of the public, like a jury, to be selected to be part of internal investigations team members. I’m sick and tired of internal investigations that are private and closed door by peers and co-workers.

  27. GT says:

    Maybe deputy isn’t the right job for this kid, if he can’t drive a car i would hate to see what happens if he has to use his gun. Walmart and McDonalds are always looking for people.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Don’t they have a probation period?? I mean come on wreaking @ of OUR cars within a year??

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