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LCW Defeats Police Officer’s Challenge To His Termination
LCW Associate Attorneys Joung Yim and Matt Nakano succeeded in upholding a city’s termination of a police officer. In the only year and a half that the officer had worked for the city, he received multiple “below standards” performance evaluations on basic skills, and was involved in multiple incidents of misconduct.
In early January 2020, the officer responded to a call to take a report of domestic violence. Instead of doing so, he guilted the victim out of making a report, conduct that was only discovered when the victim was battered again just four days later. The officer had a duty to write a report, regardless of the victim’s statement.
Later in January 2020, the officer responded to a call of a stolen tile saw. The victim provided a description of the three suspects and the make and model of their car, and potential license plate numbers, and indicated she wanted to file a police report. Rather than take the report, the officer admitted he referred the victim to the city’s online crime reporting system and told her to complete her own report. The officer did not perform any follow-up investigation.
In February 2020, the officer responded to a call regarding the theft of a cell phone. The victim reported her phone was stolen at a restaurant and she had witnessed the theft on the restaurant’s surveillance footage. The victim provided a description of the suspect and his vehicle and the license plate number. The officer falsely told the victim he could not go to the city where the vehicle was registered. The officer attempted to refer the victim to the city’s online crime reporting system. The victim pushed back. The officer stated he would prepare a theft report for the felony grand theft, but instead only filed a lost property report. The officer provided false and misleading information on the report, omitting critical information, such as the suspect information and even the fact that a theft occurred.
After reviewing the officer’s sworn testimony, the Hearing Officer determined the officer was simply not credible. Supporting this determination, the Hearing Officer cited several pages of LCW’s closing brief, which laid out the several instances when the officer was not credible or had undermined his own credibility.
In sum, the Hearing Officer noted that the officer’s dishonesty and poor judgment rendered him unsuitable for further employment and that the record was clear that the officer “was provided more than generous notice and opportunities to improve and that no amount of further training, support, and opportunities to improve would result in changed behavior.” Because dishonesty and lack of integrity are inconsistent with the position of a police officer, the Hearing Officer upheld the termination.