LCW Partner James Oldendorph And Associate Jack Begley Convince Police Sergeant To Withdraw His Termination Appeal

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Law Enforcement Briefing Room
CLIENT TYPE: Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: Aug 07, 2023

A Police Sergeant with over 20 years of law enforcement experience and approximately seven years of supervisory experience was terminated after an investigation sustained approximately 224 findings of misconduct.  These findings involved violation of nearly a dozen Department Rules and Regulations and criminal misuse of the CLETS database in violation of Penal Code Sections 11142 and 13303.  The findings involved failure to supervise, failure to activate body worn camera footage, failure to abide by pursuit and ride-along policies, engaging in prohibited associations, inappropriate on-duty text messages, and dishonesty.

In late March 2021, the Department discovered the Sergeant conducted approximately 67 unauthorized “bar checks” between January and April 2021.  The Sergeant had been admonished two previous times to stop his bar check activity.  On several occasions, these unauthorized “bar checks” led to dangerous pursuits in disregard of Department policies and community and officer safety.

In one instance, the Sergeant remained in the bar with his civilian ride-along to conduct an unauthorized “bar check” instead of intervening when he observed an inebriated woman stumble into her vehicle and drive away.  The Sergeant called for backup to deal with the woman, but the backup officer was unavailable and the woman ultimately collided into a highway median.  When another officer observed the vehicle, she activated her emergency lights and engaged in a pursuit but the woman would not yield.  When the Sergeant was called to respond to the pursuit, his civilian ride-along was still accompanying him in the car.  The Sergeant drove at speeds over 100 miles per hour on the freeway, crossed into opposing lanes of traffic on surface streets, and continued driving speeds of over 70 mph in a 40 mph zone.  When the suspect vehicle came to a stop and was surrounded, the Sergeant stopped his own vehicle with an unauthorized and dangerous maneuver that placed the passenger side door directly in front of the suspect vehicle, without giving any warning or direction to his ride-along.  The suspect vehicle then accelerated and struck the Sergeant’s vehicle with the raid-along still seated in the vehicle.  The result was significant damage to the Sergeant’s vehicle and possible injury to the ride-along.  The Sergeant reported inaccurate, misleading, and some outright falsehoods about his involvement in this and other incidents.

In dozens of these bar checks, the Sergeant did not activate his body worn video camera, and would improperly tag subsequent pursuit evidence as “bar check.”  The Sergeant failed to supervise the other officers on scene during these bar checks and pursuits, and did not report numerous policy violations the other officers made.

Also during the bar checks, the Sergeant had on-duty displays of public affection with bartenders and patrons at the various bars.  Several officers reported the Sergeant would frequently go to the bars to look at girls and comment on their bodies or attire.  The Sergeant reportedly also received hugs from the female bartenders, and returned to the same bars he was “patrolling” to have drinks with the bartenders off-duty.  These relations led to sexually explicit and provocative text messages, videos, and photos that were sent and received on the Sergeant’s department-issued cell phone, visits to bartenders’ residences, and further physical contact.  All this evidence indicated that the Sergeant was conducting “bar checks” to pick up women.

The Department issued a notice of intent to terminate over 100 pages that outlined each of the policies that the Sergeant violated through every count of misconduct.  The Department also created a comprehensive record of evidence supporting its decision to terminate.  The evidence included a list of all relevant POST and internal trainings the Sergeant had received that related to the misconduct, and to his supervisory role as a Sergeant.  The evidence showed that the Sergeant had been thoroughly trained and should have known better.

The Sergeant was ultimately terminated.  He appealed his termination.   After eight days of hearing, and before he finished presenting his case, he voluntarily withdrew his appeal.

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