Patrol faces another embarrassment

September 22, 2009 5:23:25 PM PDT
Sergeant Timothy White was a 7-year veteran of the Highway Patrol when he was fired in June.The Patrol says White admitted drinking 9-beers at a Christmas party last year and engaging in sexual conduct in the backseat of a car with the wife of his subordinate.

A discipline report said "this inappropriate contact included kissing, groping of the breast, sergeant white's hands down [the woman's] pants, and [the woman] performing oral sex on Sergeant White. This incident occurred while in the presence of [her husband]," who was in the car's front seat.

White was off-duty, out of uniform, and not in a state vehicle, but the state says White knew he would be supervising the woman's husband.

"We set high standards for members of the Highway Patrol. But we have higher expectations for our supervisors," explained spokesperson Everett Clendenin.

White is fighting to get his job back citing the Patrol's inconsistent track record on sexual misconduct. A legal filing in the case says "there is no just cause for discipline" because the Highway Patrol's unbecoming conduct rule is vague and not enforced equally.

Over the last decade, almost two dozen troopers have been disciplined for sexual misconduct and some were later promoted.

But the Patrol says standards changed under former commander Fletcher Clay. -

"Anybody who engages in any type of sexual activity while on duty, it's simple. It's dismissal," said Clendenin.

Indeed, Trooper Michael Steele was fired and then sentenced to prison for targeting and making sexual advances on Latina drivers last year. Another trooper, Ronald Ezzell, was fired in July after showing the photo of a naked boy to a bank teller.

The Highway Patrol points out it's an agency of 1,800 employees, and most of them work within the rules.

"We think we're maintaining the public's trust because of what we do when we find out about it," said Clendenin.

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