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.”
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.”
For some reason, however, Chief Leonard Burgess doesn’t believe that Antoine’s propensity toward harassing women warrants his termination.
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!
“Spreading the Wealth”