Former Coral Springs police officers detail alleged misconduct by Shawn Backer

Documents obtained by the UP reveal that some of Backer’s behavior at the Coral Springs Police Department was seen as misconduct by some of his former colleagues.


Headshot of Shawn Backer. Courtesy of CSPD Facebook.

After FAU confirmed instructor Shawn Backer to be under investigation on Monday, former Coral Springs Police Department (CSPD) officers divulged Backer’s history of violations during his time as a police officer, including sexual harassment.  

Backer was deputy chief at the CSPD, holding more than 26 years of law enforcement experience. He served as one of many first respondents at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018.

Documents obtained by the UP reveal that some of his colleagues saw his behavior at CSPD as misconduct. 

The CSPD public records office provided documentation of three infractions: an unwarranted use of pepper spray in 1997, a Fort Lauderdale car crash he contributed to in 2009, and a general administrative investigation in 2019 citing improper demeanor.

Backer and representatives from CSPD did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

Sexual Harassment

An arbitration surrounding a different officer’s possible misconduct exposed Backer’s sexual comments. In 2018, the officers, under oath, alleged Backer sexually harassed a civilian employee in the office.

“I want to motorboat your MILF titties,” he told her, multiple officers claimed.

The term “motorboat” refers to the action of pressing one’s face in between a woman’s breasts and “M.I.L.F” refers to a sexually desirable mother. 

Multiple officers throughout the document say they knew of the situation. 

It is unclear if the department disciplined Backer for this comment. 

Richard Best, who worked alongside Backer for over 10 years said this was not the first instance of harassment.

“It’s just unfortunate the amount of things he put people through, he was constantly involved in harassment matters. He made a lot of employees uncomfortable,” Best said. 

Charles Mersch, who worked with Backer for two decades, said he knew of this incident and many others that made female employees uncomfortable which he felt undermines Backer’s ability to teach young adults. 

“He wouldn’t be teaching my kids and he definitely wouldn’t be teaching my daughter,” Mersch said. 

Other Violations

In July 2020, a complaint made by Lt. Randy Rosenberg detailed that Backer joked about responding to a call where he found a deceased African American woman.

“Deputy Chief Backer stated the following: Be glad you didn’t work this weekend, it was ridiculous. They found a dead naked woman in the parking lot of studio six. I heard she was last seen alive at JB’s (James Bostic) house,” Rosenberg wrote in the complaint, quoting Backer.

Other officers found this comment both offensive and unsettling because Bostic, an officer serving with CSPD, is also African American.

“[…] a couple of officers were unsettled and it felt unprofessional for the Deputy Chief to make such a comment about an African American woman who was found dead,” the complaint read. 

Then-police chief Clyde Parry responded to the complaint, saying the department found no evidence to support that a policy was violated.

Bradley McKeone, who was the deputy chief at the time, responded to an email from Janet Copeland asking for clarification on the lack of punishment for Backer. It is unclear how Copeland was involved in the incident.

“Bostic is a Black officer. Racist? Demeaning? Inappropriate? Unprofessional? Yes, I am sure it was meant as a joke by the Deputy Chief, but let’s be honest, if told by anyone else, an investigation would be taking place and the officer would be placed on administrative duty,” Copeland wrote. 

Mersch also claims Backer once had to be restrained on “one of his many drunken nights” so that he did not fight individuals at a Domino’s in Key Largo, though he did not specify the date or location of the incident.

“A lot of us at CSPD could not believe that FAU would hire such an incompetent officer to be an instructor, in fact a lot of us laughed about it,” wrote Mersch in email.

Best said Backer is unfit to be in any type of leadership position and believes FAU did not properly screen Backer before hiring him. 

“The lack of integrity, honor, leadership, he depicts everything wrong in leadership, and unfortunately, that’s very common in that police department,” Best said. 

Savannah Peifer is the Editor-in-Chief for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories DM her @ginger.savvy or email her at [email protected].

Elisabeth Gaffney is a Staff Writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this story or others, DM her @elisabethgaff or email her at [email protected].