In this final part in a series on the coerced (and unjustified) end of a policing career, I will point out what I believe to be obvious failures by the LVMPD and by the police union. More importantly than Metro administrators recommending ‘termination’ (based on a poor investigation and little evidence of misconduct) is the fact that they also keep playing favorites and completely ‘blow’ the concept of comparative discipline which could cost them in future litigation.
If my officer ‘Joe-Lo’ had been Sheriff Joseph Lombardo instead, and he had slept in the bedroom and in the bed of a 16-year-old (Sheila), would he have been forced to resign? Our ‘Joe-Lo’ likely faced GENDER BIAS because of a female captain in Internal Affairs (Splinter) and another one that supervised ‘Joe-Lo’ (McDaris). He had to deal with a female union representative (Sweeney) and another female in Labor Relations (Frost). Finally, when he tried reporting misconduct involving Officer ‘G’ he had to deal with yet another female supervisor (Cervantes). Collectively, I’m sure they were all appalled that an intoxicated officer crashed in the bed where he crashed. And the night included clumsy movements, confusion and, yes, even sleep (and other ‘natural’ functions). There was also, inevitably, some contact made between ‘Joe-Lo’ and ‘Sheila.’ Sheila never moved; never exited the bed; never exited the room, and never alerted her dad (in bed in the same house with a girl half his age). She stayed in a position where she could report that ‘Joe-Lo’ had an erection at some time during the night but failed to tell her dad this. This was called Open & Gross Lewdness — not by the District Attorney, but by Metro’s head-hunters which involved high-ranking WOMEN. ‘Joe-Lo’ is Hispanic and a MALE. He didn’t have a chance.
The investigation conducted by Sexual Assault in October 2016 (included an interview with the ‘victim’) and a subsequent interview with ‘Joe-Lo’ on 10/5/16. A month later, the D.A. denied all criminal charges. ‘Joe-Lo’ was next interviewed at Internal Affairs on 1/12/17 (three months after the denial of charges for insufficient evidence). He wasn’t much good because he didn’t remember facts about his sleeping behavior that night — just as he had told sexual assault detectives. He then received his Pre-Termination Hearing binder on 4/18/17 and was told he had just a matter of days to either resign or face being terminated after participating in a one-sided hearing.
‘Joe-Lo’ was given until 4/25/17 to ‘voluntarily resign’ or until 4/26/17 to resign ‘pending a pre-termination’ hearing. That was only seven days after seeing the adjudication against him. He was then given an additional 24 hours to make a decision because the PPA was unprepared to defend him and ‘he started asking questions.’ After realizing that the PPA had prepared little, if any, defense for him, and after facing plenty of pressure (from these same people), he resigned on 4/26/17. Metro noted on his ‘separation notice’ that he ‘completed probation’ (which he believed gave him the best chance for future law enforcement employment).
He was on his way to resign on the 24th but changed his mind and wanted to fight, but the union beat him down, cautioning him about how he would be questioned and did not have the right to call witnesses. He was led to believe that there could be more ‘bad’ news as if additional allegations existed. They did not! The PPA has plenty of ‘work’ and he was just a number to them. I asked him if he ever read ‘Sheila’s’ statement. He hadn’t. It was conveniently ‘missing’ from his binder. I suggested that he contact an outside attorney. The attorney was busy until May which was too late. I also suggested that he ask to ‘waive’ his pre-term and to ask the PPA to research ‘comparative discipline’ involving other officers. Other officers like the son of a former assistant sheriff who had faced two felony sexual assault charges after drinking and driving and who still kept his job.
‘Joe-Lo’ asked: Can I ‘waive’ my pre-term and just go to arbitration if I’m terminated? Will the PPA approve taking my case to arbitration if I am terminated? What discipline have other officers received under similar circumstances? What are the details of the allegations against me? He received discouraging responses and the clock was ticking. He learned that this artificial deadline was agreed to without his approval as a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the PPA and Metro. After being blown-off and dissuaded by his own union, and without ever reading the transcript of ‘Sheila’s’ allegations against him, ‘Joe-Lo’ couldn’t handle it any longer. He resigned four days before that transcript was ever prepared and this was all seven months after the allegations! This is a ‘sell-out’ and is not JUSTICE or DUE PROCESS! Every criminal suspect has a chance to know what he is accused of before making decisions.
Hopefully, “Joe-Lo’ files complaints against the PPA with Nevada Employee-Management Relations Board and the EEOC. Or maybe the PPA will offer to return his dues to him (probably in excess of $10,000). I won’t hold my breath but the PMSA did make an offer like that for me — along with the ‘gag order’ that Gillespie approved and ‘Tricky Nicky’ prepared.
So how about I cover some PPA FAILURES that led ‘Joe-Lo’ to end his own career by resigning? The truth of the matter is that the PPA essentially walked him out the door, which probably made those female Metro administrators very happy. I had many concerns about the PPA and their failures. On ‘Joe-Lo’s’ first visit to the PPA attorney (David Roger) ‘referred’ business to an outside criminal attorney. That attorney, ‘Meredith,’ wanted a $10,000 retainer to defend ‘Joe-Lo’ and try to keep him off the sex offender list! Are you kidding me? What kind of ‘union representation’ is there when a half-year passes and NO interview transcript is obtained and no research or investigation occurs on your behalf and the INCOMPLETE case file against their member comes seven days before they want him to resign? The PPA said they couldn’t commit to support an arbitration hearing if ‘Joe-Lo’ were to be fired at a pre-term claiming it was unprecedented. The PPA didn’t even analyze the concept of ‘comparative discipline’ until just days before ‘Joe-Lo’ resigned and then Sweeney claimed other cases were ‘different’ from his.
At the end, the pathetic PPA representative criticized ‘Joe-Lo’ and said, “Oh, so you want to put this on the girl?” This is in reference to the 16-year-old making claims about things happening in bed, but NEVER moving or leaving the room and never waking ‘Joe-Lo’ up and saying STOP and GET OUT OF MY ROOM! How would the accused feel when his ‘defender’ responded this way before the statement is even transcribed and with only the one-sided adjudication of complaint materials available to review? If an attorney had never even read the accuser’s statement but was giving advice it would be infuriating to me. Sweeney went on to tell ‘Joe-Lo’ at his hearing, “all eyes and fingers and everything will be focused on me, and she said with her experience she could almost guarantee I will be fired.” I told her, “I don’t doubt that but I truly feel that we can win arbitration, and she did not say anything about that.” The PPA also would not notify Internal Affairs of possible misconduct of Officer ‘G’ even though ‘G’ was not even a member of the PPA. This could have had value in challenging the credibility of ‘G’ and others — lies of omission. If ‘dad’ was serving alcohol to a minor at a police picnic and then taking her home to bed (dad is 40) then how did dad/Officer ‘G’ have so much confidence in reporting ‘Joe-Lo’?
So how about I cover some Metro organizational FAILURES? Did a minor drink at a police picnic? Did Officer ‘G’ call in sick for his shift because he drank too much with ‘Joe-Lo’? Metro investigators failed to concern themselves with the under-age drinking, the unlicensed driving. Did they never even interview ‘K’ or know her name and birthdate? She was in the home while a ‘sex crime’ allegedly occurred, wasn’t she? Why would ‘criminal’ detectives not convince ‘internal affairs’ detectives that there was no probable cause and certainly no clear and convincing evidence of misconduct — let alone ‘administrative’ DUI?
The devastating impact on ‘Joe-Lo’ was evident in the communications we exchanged. There is a real human behind this story. A ten-year veteran of the LVMPD, ‘Joe-Lo’s’ emotions were captured in his communication right after resigning; “A year to get on, and 15 minutes to get out; what a shame?” Prior communications included, “I understand that I am cutting myself short by resigning, but seeing that I am not only up against the department but also the union I can’t handle it anymore, I just want to move on and attempt to continue my law-enforcement career elsewhere” “…These “people (PPA) are something else… they just make it seem like I am an inconvenience”…and… “Honestly, I am just so nervous about arbitration, because if they could attempt to terminate me for this, I’m sure they are more than happy to fabricate something else during arbitration.”
Without ever meeting this man in person, I’ve offered to do what I can for ‘Joe-Lo’ with regard to future employment and in regard to advice on complaints and legal actions that he may be able to take. I believe contacts with the District Attorney regarding Metro’s attempted malicious prosecution is in order. I also feel that the PPA and Metro should consider allowing him to rescind his resignation. How on earth can any professional organization do this to one of their own people without ever reading a transcript (or listening to a recording) of the victim’s allegations? I’m afraid ‘Joe-Lo’ is the victim of a GENDER ‘jackhammer’ and a deliberately indifferent police administration and I don’t even know what adjective to use to describe the performance of Sweeney and Roger.
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Norm Jahn served with the LVMPD for over 21 years and achieved the rank of lieutenant. He also served as a police chief in Wisconsin for over three years. Jahn has been a university professor and also taught in the criminal justice program at the College of Southern Nevada for over a decade.