Investigation Leads to KPD Disciplinary Actions and Policy Revision

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Investigation Leads to KPD Disciplinary Actions and Policy Revision

Posted: 12/08/2015
KPD LogoAfter an Internal Affairs investigation into alleged violations of the Knoxville Police Department’s secondary employment policy, Mayor Madeline Rogero and Police Chief David Rausch announced today that four officers have been disciplined and the policy has been revised to provide more oversight and accountability for officers engaged in off-duty work.

“To maintain public trust and avoid any conflicts of interest, it is crucial that our officers adhere to strict ethical guidelines at all times, whether they are on duty or working for a third-party employer,” Mayor Rogero said. “The revised policy clarifies the expectations for our officers, and it provides greater transparency and accountability for all secondary employment of KPD personnel.”

The Internal Affairs investigation began in April after two KPD officers raised concerns about multiple violations of the secondary employment policy. The investigation by Capt. Eve Thomas, head of the Internal Affairs Unit, confirmed some of the complaints and found others to be unfounded. The 14-page summary of the investigation and its findings is on the City website at http://bit.ly/1ONORNq.

Broadly, Thomas found “a Policy Failure of General Order 1.7 entitled ‘Secondary Employment,’” which governs off-duty and extra-duty employment by KPD officers. Thomas said that “lack of adherence to several mandates within the policy” allowed officers “to take advantage of its shortcomings.” She concluded, “This has created a perception that impropriety, while it has not as of yet, could easily flourish.”

“We were already reviewing the Secondary Employment Policy as part of our normal accreditation process,” Chief Rausch said. “This thorough investigation highlighted weaknesses in the supervision of secondary employment, which we have corrected. It also brought to light some specific violations that required disciplinary action. I take very seriously any allegations of ethical or legal misconduct by our officers. They know that they will be held to the highest standards of integrity and propriety.”

The revised policy (available online at http://bit.ly/1RCfEwT) creates a command-level Secondary Employment Coordinator, who is charged with overseeing and approving all assignments of KPD officers for off-duty or extra-duty work on behalf of third-party employers. Among other things, the Secondary Employment Coordinator will file daily worksheets showing all extra-duty assignments; compile monthly, quarterly and annual reports on all secondary employment; make periodic visits to locations where extra-duty work is performed; and allocate secondary employment assignments as equitably as possible among those officers eligible and interested.

Some of the allegations in the complaint concerned Chief Rausch’s professional relationships with local third-party employers. In an interview conducted during the investigation, Chief Rausch affirmed to Thomas that when he became Police Chief in 2011, he severed all connections with any third-party employers, as required by KPD policy, and that he has had no involvement since then in the allocation of secondary employment. Thomas found that, “No allegations regarding Chief Rausch could be sustained to any degree.”

“I have the highest confidence in Chief Rausch and in his commitment to transparency and accountability,” Mayor Rogero said. “He cooperated fully with this investigation, and he and his command staff understand how important it is to maintain public trust in all operations of the Knoxville Police Department.”

The most significant violations highlighted in Thomas’ report involved work performed by three KPD K9 officers for Lower’s Risk Group on behalf of a traveling circus company. On four occasions in 2012 and 2013, the officers took Knoxville police dogs across state lines to perform drug sniffs on circus trains. This use of the K9 dogs was never approved by the Division Commander, as required by KPD policy.

During one of those searches, in Columbus, Ohio, in May 2012, the officers discovered and confiscated approximately 12 grams of marijuana (less than half an ounce). No documentation or formal report was ever filed on this confiscation. Officer Darrell Sexton confirmed to Thomas that he had transported the marijuana back to Knoxville for use in canine training, and it was actually in the trunk of his KPD cruiser at the time of the Internal Affairs interview, some three years after its initial confiscation. After this disclosure, Sexton was ordered to promptly remove the marijuana from his vehicle and log it with the KPD Property Unit.

Here are the violations discovered and the disciplinary actions taken as a result of this investigation:

Officer Darrell Sexton
• Violations: Using a City of Knoxville vehicle to transport an illegal substance that was not being held as evidence or properly confiscated and logged; possession of marijuana while working a secondary employment job out of state and outside his authority as a police officer; use of a canine outside the scope of services provided by KPD and failing to submit documentation of K9 use; failure to submit a Secondary Employment Form for off-duty employment.
• Disciplinary action: Three days’ suspension without pay. In addition to the disciplinary action, Sexton has been reassigned from the K9 unit.

Lt. Doug Stiles
• Violations: Authorizing the use of canines outside the scope of services provided by KPD.
• Discipline: Written reprimand. This supersedes an earlier oral reprimand arising from related issues.

Officer Adam Moore
• Violations: Failure to submit a Secondary Employment Form for off-duty employment; use of a canine outside the scope of services provided by KPD and failing to submit documentation of K9 use.
• Disciplinary action: Written reprimand.

Officer Richard Wallace
• Violations: Failure to submit a Secondary Employment Form for off-duty employment; use of a canine outside the scope of services provided by KPD and failing to submit documentation of K9 use.
• Disciplinary action: Written reprimand.