Database misuse cited in police discipline reports
A Denver Police Department sergeant will be suspended without pay for three days after he left his district during a patrol shift and misused a federal criminal database in an attempt to find a missing cellphone.
Sgt. Joseph Rodarte failed to obey departmental rules about using the National Crime Information Center database and patrolling, according to a copy of his June 23 disciplinary letter obtained by The Denver Post.
The letter was one of about a dozen obtained by The Post in a routine examination of law enforcement disciplinary actions. The letters also detail that an officer will lose a vacation day for failing to activate his body camera and another officer will lose two vacation days for failing to file a report.
Misuse of the criminal database, which is maintained by the FBI, has been a recurring problem at the department, records show. In 2016, Denver’s police watchdog called for tougher penalties for abuse of the database, saying police who misused power eroded public trust in the department.
Rodarte on Jan. 18 traced his daughter’s missing cellphone to the 800 block of Tejon Street. He made 24 inquiries into the NCIC system as he ran license plate numbers of vehicles in the parking lot, the disciplinary letter said.
While running the license plates, Rodarte had left his district for three hours, 50 minutes, the letter said.
“Although Sergeant Rodarte while at the DWB facility monitored the radio channel, reviewed reports and checked his work email, he was outside his assigned district and was neglecting other assigned duties,” the letter said.
Officer Patrick Richards, who has been a Denver officer since 2006, admitted to making a mistake when he failed to activate his camera while investigating a traffic crash on March 21, according to his disciplinary letter. It was the second time in 12 months that Richards was called out for failing to use the camera.
Officers are given an oral reprimand the first time they are caught failing to activate their cameras, according to the department’s operations manual.
Officer Damon Marquez, who has been with the Denver Police Department since 2000, failed to file an official report about an incident involving former Uber driver Derek Leffler, 31, at DIA, according to his June 26 disciplinary letter.
Leffler pleaded guilty to charges of disturbing the peace after rolling his car into the leg of a parking attendant who was about to issue him a citation.
Marquez was sent to take a report but instead only entered the incident on a log sheet. He later admitted he should have filed a report and took responsibility for his actions, the letter said.