Former deputy says firing was retaliation

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Steven Smith always wanted to be a police officer, but now he may never wear the badge again.

His four year run with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office came to an unceremonious end last week when it was announced he had been arrested and fired, accused of stealing drugs and trying to pawn his service weapon to feed his addiction.

At the time, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said this:

"Law enforcement officers here in Pinellas County are going to be held to the same standards as anyone else. He needs to face the consequences for his actions."

But now, Smith and his attorney are fighting back, saying his firing was the result of a sheriff with an ax to grind. They claim Smith was let go for speaking out about certain department policies, like the FIR, or field interview report quota.

Smith and his lawyer say FIRs are equivalent to stopping individuals on the street, even if they aren’t suspected of committing a crime.

"These field interview reports are illegal they’re unconstitutional," said attorney John Trevena. “I think they wanted to malign him and destroy his reputation. I think they succeeded," he said.

"I can’t just lay down and take these false claims," Smith said. "It’s not a matter of switching agencies or switching cities. It’s a matter of not ever even thinking of that again it’s not going to happen."

When asked about the drugs, Trevena said none were ever found and a photo of them was the work of a jealous ex-girlfriend seeking revenge. 

“I didn’t steal any drugs. Again, I’m not going to go over the details of the case, per the advice of my lawyer, but yes, absolutely not," he said.

FOX 13 reached out to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. It declined to comment.