Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Police Say Lying Led to Firing

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Police Say Lying Led to Firing

Article excerpt

NORTH PORT: But school resource officer ties it to dispute over bandage

NORTH PORT

A former resource officer for North Port High School claims he was fired because of a dispute over who put a bandage on his knee.

Robert L. Davidson, 30, worked at the North Port Police Department from 2008 until July, when he was terminated for lying about why he was at North Port High School during one of his sick days.

Davidson -- who coached several sports at the school, began a Christmas charity project for needy children and led a teenager- police mentoring program -- said he was shocked by the firing.

"It's upsetting after five-and-a-half years of doing nothing but trying to better the community, that something like this would happen over something so little," he said.

But North Port Police Chief Kevin Vespia said even a white lie is enough to put his department's credibility at risk.

"The one thing I tell every new applicant is that when it comes to public trust, that's all we have as law enforcement," Vespia said. "Integrity in our staff is crucial, and I don't tolerate anything else."

According to North Port Police Department documents, a police sergeant saw Davidson at North Port High School on March 20. Davidson was on sick leave after receiving knee surgery.

When the sergeant asked Davidson why he was at the school, Davidson responded that he was picking up transcripts for a student in the Police Explorer Program, which teaches teenagers about police work.

The sergeant recommended punishing Davidson for misusing sick time off. …

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