Four police officers have been suspended without pay for allegedly trying to implicate their supervisor in a prostitution case as retaliation for changes made to their job assignments.
The four officers — J.C. Williams, C. Cespedes, D. Shaw, and J. Pittman — notified internal affairs that they believed their narcotics sergeant was having sex with prostitutes or trying to cover for prostitutes and their clients.
They also indicated that the narcotics lieutenant might be involved, according to disciplinary letters filed with the Civil Service Commission on Tuesday.
The letters, signed by Police Chief Rhonda Robertson, state that the officers did not have a “legitimate reason” to believe such misconduct was being committed.
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Rather, the letters allege, the officers had joined in a “premeditated act” to retaliate against the two supervisors that “could have resulted in them [the supervisors] being devastated and humiliated not only professionally, but also personally.”
Williams, Cespedes and Shaw were each suspended for 10 days. All three officers have appealed. The fourth officer, J. Pittman, was suspended for five days. He has not appealed.
Jim Lane, the attorney representing the three appealing officers, said Wednesday, “We look forward to our day in arbitration.”
According to their disciplinary letters, the four officers met with an internal affairs investigator in November and expressed concerns that their sergeant may have been involved in a prostitution case they were working.
“They believed this sergeant was either involved in a cover-up to protect women who were being investigated for prostitution and their clients or potentially even paying to have sex with them,” the letters state.
The officers told the investigators that they had shown a photograph of their sergeant to two prostitutes, who identified the supervisor as a “john.”
Williams also told the investigator that the officers had included a photo of their narcotics lieutenant in the photo spread shown to the prostitutes because of the lieutenant’s close relationship with the sergeant.
In a subsequent meeting with internal affairs supervisors, it was revealed that the officers had used a photo spread technique not approved by the department when showing the sergeant’s and lieutenant’s photographs to the two prostitutes.
Internal affairs determined there was not enough evidence to initiate an administrative investigation of the sergeant or lieutenant, but told the officers that they would reconsider if additional information surfaced.
The four officers later attempted to have two other prostitutes identify the sergeant. The prostitutes could not, however, and the allegation was dropped, the letter states.
The narcotic unit’s chain of command subsequently decided to transfer the four officers out of the unit.
The letter states that Pittman asked to meet with narcotics supervisors “to determine if he could be salvaged as a narcotics officer and not be transferred out of the unit.”
During that Jan. 8 meeting, the lieutenant asked Pittman why his photo and that of the sergeant were shown to prostitutes.
“Officer Pittman advised them it was done because his team was mad their long-term case was hijacked, their schedules were changed resulting in no longer having Fridays off, and their work hours were changed,” the letters state.
Pittman also allegedly told the supervisors that the officers were unhappy they had been separated and assigned to different narcotics teams.
“It became apparent that the officers were irritated with their supervision, and this motivated them to seek embarrassing information about him to undermine his authority and reputation,” the letters state.
The narcotics supervisors alerted internal affairs, who started a formal investigation of the four officers.
The investigation found all four officers violated the department’s rules on professional conduct, ethical standards, and conducting photo spreads, the letter states.
The four officers have been with the department between 8 and 10 years.
Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655