A city personnel appeals board recently upheld the termination of a police officer for unwarranted speeding, reckless driving, making traffic stops without probable cause, and misusing the mobile-audio-video component within his patrol car.
The case, handled by Frances Rogers of our San Diego office, entailed fourteen days of hearing involving video and audio evidence obtained from the mounted mobile-audio-visual component inside the officer's patrol car. The officer was observed traveling at excessive speeds on several occasions, including upwards of 53 miles per hour (mph) in a residential school zone, 41 miles over the speed limit in a commercial area, 60 mph in a 25 mph zone, and nearly 20 miles over the speed limit in a construction zone. The officer was also observed driving over double yellow lines, running through stop signs, and dangerously passing slower-moving vehicles. The officer did not have any cause for his speeding or reckless driving, let alone to operate any emergency lights or siren to warn other drivers. The board found that the manner in which the officer operated the patrol unit placed the health and safety of the public at risk, which conflicted with the officer's pledge to protect the public.
The mobile-audio-video component also captured the officer exceeding his lawful police powers by making traffic stops without any probable cause, and on a number of occasions, intentionally moving the camera away and out of focus so that it could not capture outside the front of the patrol car.
In reaching its decision to uphold the officer's termination, the board considered the officer's prior disciplinary history, his unwillingness to accept responsibility for his actions, and his failure to exercise good judgment or adhere to policy, which is reasonable to expect of a seasoned police officer.