This is how we roll!

This is how we rollMaybe it’s just me, but this story sounded so familiar.

On Thursday, a Seattle police officer was fired for allegedly making unwanted advances toward three women.  He obtained their telephone numbers from police reports they had filed.  The Seattle Times reported yesterday:

Officer Peter Leutz, 44, is alleged to have contacted the women through phone calls and text messages. He asked them out on dates, complimented them, suggested one woman end her relationship with her boyfriend and in another instance sent at least 109 text messages to one of the three women, according to a police disciplinary report.

In a letter hand-delivered to Leutz on Thursday, Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole told the former officer he engaged in “serious and repeated abuse of authority, and an unsettling pattern of behavior, some of it directed at women who you knew from the outset, or learned early on, may have been especially vulnerable given turmoil in their personal lives.”

When the first woman contacted the head of the Office of Professional Accountability, Pierce Murphy said he “recognized the potential gravity of the allegation.”

When the second complaint came to his attention, Murphy ordered a full investigation of the offending officer’s “activity records.”  During that investigation, they found a third woman with whom Leutz made “extracurricular contact with.”

One of the women had called the police after a fight with her boyfriend, who had locked her out of the house with her newborn baby inside.  Officer Leutz responded to the call and gave her “a domestic-violence pamphlet.”  According to the article, soon after he “started calling and texting her on his personal cellphone. In the messages he offered relationship advice, called her ‘cute and sassy’ and said he wanted to ‘hug and comfort her.'”

Leutz met another woman who reported a stolen bicycle, then started texting her inappropriate advances.  He met the third during a traffic stop, then showed up at her house uninvited less than an hour later.

In a letter of termination, Police Chief O’Toole wrote, “I simply cannot allow this police service to be represented by an individual who committed this level of serious misconduct.  I do not have sufficient trust in your judgment or faith in your future conduct to ever send you back into the field as a police officer.

The Office of Professional Accountability’s Pierce Murphy also made a statement, “This did not cross the line into criminal behavior, but this behavior is consistent with any other profession where the professional is in a position of authority and they use that power or access for their own purposes. This just isn’t bad taste; it’s misuse of authority.

They see me rollin'That’s how they roll in Seattle!

It’s good to know there are Police Departments around the country where bad behavior by police officers is not tolerated.

Too bad North Miami’s PD isn’t one of them.

It’s not clear why North Miami Police Chief Leonard Burgess won’t fire Officer Jodlyn Antoine, despite Antoine’s being the subject of three Internal Affairs Investigations (two of which resulted in the allegations being sustained) and a history of other infractions, including insubordination.

As yet, Chief Burgess has not agreed to be interviewed by me, but he has told several individuals to advise me that Officer Antoine’s behavior is subject to “progressive discipline.”

Sure thing, Chief.  But, what about progressive misbehavior?

In Dallas, Texas, for example, an officer was fired for “repeatedly [being] investigated for allegedly making improper advances, some of them while on duty.”  The officer sued the Dallas Police Department to get his job back, but lost his case.  In an appeal, an Administrative Law Judge upheld that ruling in October of 2009.

The Dallas Morning News Crime Blog reported:

Williams exemplified a serious issue facing police departments, namely can you get rid of an officer who has been repeatedly accused of the same kinds of misconduct, even if some of the original allegations could not be sustained?

If the Williams situation is any guide, the answer is yes.

That “some of the original allegations could not be sustained” is of no importance when an officer has received repeated complaints for “the same kinds of misconduct.”

Full RomoAnd that’s how they roll in Dallas!

For some reason, however, Chief Leonard Burgess doesn’t believe that Antoine’s propensity toward harassing women warrants his termination.

I guess this shouldn’t be surprising considering the Chief’s own history of “unsustained” allegations of sexual harassment.  Must be some type of Good Old Boys Club unspoken rule of conduct.

Or something.

But, here’s the thing.

North Miami City Manager Aleem Ghany already told Chief Burgess to fire Officer Jodlyn Antoine.  Burgess refused.  By definition, Burgess’ refusal to obey a direct order sounds like a classic case of insubordination.

Just last week, Mr. Ghany told me that he is making a decision on “either termination or demotion” of the Chief.

As of yesterday, Ghany has not acted on his decision.

If Aleem needs any inspiration or encouragement to do what he has to do, he can look no further than the City of Phoenix, Arizona.

Last December, the Phoenix Chief of Police was fired for “insubordinate and unprofessional conduct,” according to a memo issued by Phoenix Assistant City Manager Milton Dohoney.

In a swift, decisive action, City Manager Ed Zuercher fired Chief Daniel Garcia.

At a press conference, Zuercher had this to say:

And, that’s how they roll in Phoenix!

‘Nuff said.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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15 Comments

  1. Keystone Couple says:

    Now that’s a City Manager I know exists in Ghany. He exudes confidence and professionalism and seems to have a huge pair. Ghany needs to grow a pair and do what he needs to do. Sounds like Burgess is guilty of insubordination and being untruthful. Get rid of this guy already PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      I’ve watched that video at least ten times. I love it when the CM says, “Today the Chief disobeyed a direct order… As a result, I fired him.”

      Boom!

      He didn’t have to think about it. Bad Chief. Buh-bye. End of discussion.

      Damn impressive! Can we clone this dude?

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  2. Decisions decisions says:

    City Manager Ghany is a good person, I think he’s having a tough time pulling the trigger because at the end of the day he is new to this job and he may not have experience in terminating employees. I’d venture to guess that he’s covering all his bases, checking with the city attorney, and making certain that he isn’t exposing the city to any liabilty.
    As we know, the City Attorneys in North Miami have been known to give legal advice that’s skewed in the direction that the attorney wants. i.e. If the city attorney is friendly with Burgess it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they may give the manager a less than forthright answer.
    If I had the managers ear I’d be talking to him about the liabilty associated with keeping employees when you have an awareness of their wrong doing. I’d let him know that these blogs and information that he has received concerning both Antoine and the chief effectively eliminate any plausible deniability. This means that negligent retention comes into play. If (read “when”) a problem arises with the employee, for example a complaint or litigation, the manager can reasonably expect that he will become collateral damage.
    Word to the wise.

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  3. Retired MDPD Gold Badge says:

    I am a retired Miami-Dade PD Lieutenant. I became interested in Voters Opinion only because I worked with Lenny Burgess and knew his ways. Myself and others from Miami-Dade were not surprised to hear about this controversy and we were impressed that Stephanie Kienzle, the writer, was able to dig up what Lenny Burgess and his clan tried to keep buried for so long. Needless to say, I know many people in law enforcement. I don’t know Asssitant Chief Eugene personally nor do I know Assistant Chief Juriga, the two who are next in line to become Chief. What I can tell you is that I’ve made a lot of phone calls and reached out to a lot of credible people who I trust and who I have relationships with in law enforcement. I heard mixed things about Assistant Chief Juriga so I won’t comment. The negative things I heard about Assistant Chief Juriga were actually disturbing to say the least, but then again, I dont know him so I won’t elaborate. The good things I heard were great too. Of the two, it sounds like Assistant Chief Eugene would be the perfect fit for your community. He has an impressive background, and has the education, experience and training required to fill the position. Everyone I spoke to seems to have great things to say about him. Sounds like someone who wasn’t protected or ever given anything without deserving it. I hear he’s a humble man, a family man, and was a “real” cop, not just an aspiring executive stepping over everyone to get ahead. Regardless of the choice made, Lenny Burgess needs to be terminated. The longer he stays as Chief, the more dirt will be dug up, especially if Voters Opinion is holding the shovel. As for the City Manager, If he hasn’t “terminated or demoted” Lenny Burgess yet, its because he doesn’t have the support of the Commisioners. Which means that Lenny Burgess is in close with them or they have something to lose by the move. It’s not an easy move. To the City Manager: These are the types of decisions that define your character and career as a City Manager. This opportunity was placed in front of you to test your abilities and confidence in yourself. Not many are given an opportunity like this to redeem themselves and set a standard of professionalism in your city and essentially your police department. This isn’t easy. Listen to your instincts and look for the signs. I’m sure they’re there. Also, a demotion would allow him to destroy you from within the organization. Don’t take the easy road. Please note that I did not reach out to anyone in North Miami to get the information I’m posting, in order to remain anonymous. So therefore, the information I gathered was from outside the North Miami PD. Those are my two cents. Good Luck!

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  4. notabell says:

    One of the players here is full of crapola.

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Oh? Do tell.

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  5. Robert Gruenberg says:

    MDPD Gold Bage is right on the money with his comments. These are the things that define a city leader and they draw the line in the sand for conduct that won’t be tolerated. When you read the articles about other cities and how they’ve handled internal issues you walk away with the impression that the police chiefs and managers are no nonsense people who want to run a clean operation.
    As far as Chief Juriga is concerned, many of us have heard about him and “disturbing” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I would prefer to have Chief Eugene.

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  6. ELLEN says:

    The Chief of Police should be nothing less than a pillar of society with an unblemished record. The residents/taxpayers of North Miami expect the actions of the chief to be beyond reproach. We all lose when the Chief of Police retains substandard officers who should have been long gone. Shame on those in power for allowing a chief and the ‘bad’ cops under him to remain on the force!

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  7. KoLaw says:

    Some comments were deleted. I wonder why??

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Why do you care, “Larry?”

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      1. KoLaw says:

        You should write a blog about that.

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        1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

          Huh? About why I deleted the comments or about why you care? Enlighten me.

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          1. Koolaid says:

            I don’t think KoLaw wants a blog written about that or about a certain someone eating her pie, er umm I mean cheesecake.

            Be careful what you wish for, Ms. Kienzle may decide that it’s way better than a ham sandwich.

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  8. […] brought to the attention of City Manager Aleem Ghany, he personally assured me that he was going to either terminate or demote the […]

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  9. […] Manager Aleem Ghany told me in March that Burgess refused his directive to fire Antoine.  As a result, Aleem also told me at the time […]

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