LCW Partner Rick Bolanos And Associate Tyler Shill Convince Hearing Officer To Sustain Demotion Of Sergeant

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Law Enforcement Briefing Room
CLIENT TYPE: Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: Jun 06, 2023

After approximately nine years of service, a city police officer received a promotion to sergeant.  One year later, the sergeant met with his supervisor to discuss the sergeant’s use of force in an incident.  The supervisor reminded the sergeant of his supervisory responsibilities.  In his next performance evaluation, his supervisor again noted several areas the sergeant needed to develop, including effectively analyzing situations and decision-making, as well as refining his written communication.  The sergeant’s evaluation noted that he would put himself in the middle of an incident, as opposed to supervising it.  The sergeant’s superiors counseled him again in consecutive months later that year, and finally placed him on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).  The PIP once again addressed the sergeant’s shortcomings in analyzing situations, decision-making, leadership, and written communications.

In the seven months after the PIP was in place, the sergeant did the following:

  • Approached the suspects in a potentially stolen vehicle with both his TASER and service pistol drawn and pointed at the subjects for approximately 15 seconds.
  • Initiated a vehicular pursuit that resulted in the subject vehicle driving extremely recklessly at high speeds.
  • Failed to follow up with another officer’s missing person report and the report was not completed or approved until nearly five days later.
  • Failed to turn in numerous traffic citations and corrected citations.
  • Admitted to having an extramarital affair with an agent in the past, but only after that agent was assigned to duty on the sergeant’s shift almost two years later.

The hearing officer upheld the demotion after finding that the police chief duly considered the appropriate level of discipline and acted within his discretion to protect the public service, based on all the circumstances presented.


The hearing officer noted that reasonable persons could differ on whether the sergeant’s misconduct and performance failures warranted demotion.  Because the city supported its written disciplinary decision with how the sergeant’s conduct harmed the public service, the discipline was upheld.

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