Wednesday, March 10, 1999

Police officer demoted over choking incident

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A city police sergeant has been demoted for three departmental violations stemming from his attempt to choke a subordinate officer in the police station.

        In a letter released Tuesday, Capt. Joseph Murray, acting police chief, found Joseph P. Booher, 39, guilty of unsatisfactory performance, inefficiency of service and unbecoming conduct.

        Those charges were filed as a result of a Nov. 24 incident between Mr. Booher and Detective James Cifuentes. The two had been discussing Christmas party plans when playful bantering turned into an argument and Mr. Booher placed his hands around the detective's neck.

        An investigation revealed “the incident with Cifuentes is a manifestation of existing, un derlying problems,” Capt. Murray said.

        He outlined several previously undocumented incidents of Mr. Booher's “uncontrolled sobbing” and angry outbursts in front of citizens.

        Capt. Murray also cited a psychologist's opinion that Mr. Booher, a 14-year veteran, was “unfit to be a police supervisor.”

        “Based upon the evaluating psychologist's very firm diagnosis, it is very clear that the city would be remiss in retaining you as a police supervisor,” Capt. Murray said. “On the other hand, the evaluating psychologist has not ruled that you are unfit for nonsupervisory police duty.”

        Because the next-lowest rank, detective, is considered supervisory, Capt. Murray demoted Mr. Booher two levels, to the rank of police officer.


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