Fired SLO police officer loses latest bid to get job back

June 29, 2017

By KAREN VELIE

A former San Luis Obispo police officer who was fired from the department in 2014 appears to have lost his latest bid to get his job back, according to a tentative ruling issued June 28.

In 2016, Kevin Waddell filed a lawsuit against the City of San Luis Obispo that challenged his termination for dishonesty. Waddell argued that the evidence against him was not sufficient and that his termination was “an abuse of discretion.”

Waddell’s troubles began on Feb. 22, 2013, after he responded to the intersection of Orcutt Road and Johnson Avenue. An Arroyo Grande woman had crashed her Bentley while under the influence.

At the scene, Waddell borrowed a screwdriver from a tow truck driver. Waddell then used the screwdriver to remove a wheel cover and several emblems from the Bentley.

Sgt. Chad Pfarr spotted Waddell removing the emblems, but because it was Pfarr’s first “call out” as a supervising sargent, he thought his officers were playing a joke on him.

However, as Pfarr was leaving, he noticed Waddell sticking the car parts in an evidence bag. Pfarr then called Waddell and ordered him to put the car parts back, according to the ruling.

Waddell then placed the car parts on the floorboard of the Bentley, took a photo and texted the shot to Pfarr. Later that day, Pfarr reprimanded Waddell for his actions.

On Oct. 19, 2013, Pfarr sent Waddell a text message asking why he hadn’t shown up for an 11 a.m. shift. Waddell, who arrived at work at 11:35, said Lt. Jeff Smith had given him permission to arrive late so that he could attend his daughters dance recital.

Smith said he hadn’t spoken with Waddell about being late for work.
Following an investigation, on Sept. 9, 2014, then Chief Steve Gesell terminated Waddell for knowingly making a false statement, arriving late for work and engaging in conduct that was detrimental to the department’s reputation.

Courts have upheld the right of government agencies to penalize workers whose conduct harms the ability of the agency to deliver services to the public. The most famous example took place in New York City where two firefighters and a police officer dressed in blackface to take part in a Labor Day parade. The three appealed their firing and a federal circuit court of appeals panel ruled against them. The three-judge panel said that where employees’ jobs were tied to working with the public, their conduct that would erode public trust and cooperation could be terminated.

After losing a hearing and an appeal to the SLO City Council, Waddell filed a lawsuit on Oct. 12, 2016, claiming the city erred in terminating him. In his tentative ruling, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall found for the city in terminating Waddell.

“It is sad but true that little lies can get public servants, especially police officers, in big trouble. That is unfortunately what happened here,” Crandall said in his tentative ruling. “A series of falsehoods about reporting for duty in a timely fashion, combined with other misconduct, ultimately led to a dismissal. The writ of mandate is denied.”







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20 Comments

  1. sweethome says:

    Paragon You are absolutely correct. I should have made my comment about the entire county.

    (16) 18 Total Votes - 17 up - 1 down
  2. gangsta1 says:

    In his defense.Had this vehicle been a Yugo he would have had no interest in any logos from car.Gues the BEntley part of this was what caused this!!

    (10) 28 Total Votes - 19 up - 9 down
  3. MikeB says:

    Although I do not defend the apparent poor judgement and indiscretion of Waddel, I do recognize and point out an enormous hypocrisy.

    Waddell was fired by former Police Chief Steve Gessel who himself was the focus of alleged misconduct, specifically using city funds to supplement his families travel to Disney World in Florida.

    https://calcoastnews.com/2015/01/slo-police-chief-travels-family-plan/

    A year later Gessel apparently falls from grace and is shown the door, but not before the city approves a a six figure severance payout.

    https://calcoastnews.com/2015/05/did-steve-gesell-game-the-city-to-get-his-settlement/

    Gessel himself should have been subject to a criminal investigation.

    So I guess I’m pointing out the old adage about the pot calling the kettle black.

    (31) 39 Total Votes - 35 up - 4 down
    • Ralph Snart says:

      I’m not disagreeing. In the military we called this the 10% Rule. 10% will perform be above and beyond flawlessly. 80% will do their job as per norm… 10% are dirty sleazeballs who will give the other 90% a bad name. I have found this rule to apply equally in society.

      (17) 17 Total Votes - 17 up - 0 down
  4. 1965buick says:

    That’s too bad – he sounded like a real charmer.

    (22) 22 Total Votes - 22 up - 0 down
  5. gangsta1 says:

    Usually true.However, states thus guy lost his bid to retain job.

    (17) 19 Total Votes - 18 up - 1 down
  6. gangsta1 says:

    You mess up on your job, you risk losing it, DUH!!

    (44) 46 Total Votes - 45 up - 1 down
    • kayaknut says:

      Not in the public sector, commit a crime get a promotion or be allowed to “retire” with full benefits, at the taxpayers expense.

      (35) 47 Total Votes - 41 up - 6 down
  7. sweethome says:

    It would say: Does anyone…

    (17) 17 Total Votes - 17 up - 0 down
  8. sweethome says:

    Drug addicts, alcoholics, and thieves. And bullies with badges. Is there anyone else think is a huge problem with SLOPD?

    (41) 51 Total Votes - 46 up - 5 down
    • paragon says:

      It’s not just SLOPD. We’ve had local CHP officers (including a captain) driving drunk, an undersheriff driving drunk, and how could anyone forget Paso’s pervert Police Chief Lisa “Petermaid” Solomon!

      (29) 33 Total Votes - 31 up - 2 down
      • kayaknut says:

        And yet when these people leave the force they are given golden parachutes, full benefits and pensions.

        (24) 24 Total Votes - 24 up - 0 down
  9. Pelican1 says:

    It’s amazing how this city operates. A city cop gets fired for “conduct that was detrimental to the department.”
    Exactly how did the city characterize Mr. Mason (city fireman) when he severely beat another man several years ago and yet he is still very much unemployed….

    You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of the mindless. A journey into a strange land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead—your next stop, the SLO Zone!

    (37) 43 Total Votes - 40 up - 3 down
    • Pelican1 says:

      oops…very much EMPLOYED!

      (26) 30 Total Votes - 28 up - 2 down
      • kayaknut says:

        We in Arroyo Grande still have a Community Services Director, caught drunk in a city office, with our then city manager, also drunk, and yet we were told no rules were broke and there were no consequences to Teresa McClish. In the private sector if you were caught drunk in a company office you would have been fired, in the public sector you are given raises.

        (30) 42 Total Votes - 36 up - 6 down

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