Friday, November 16, 2001

Judge says cop must be rehired

Fired for planting drugs on suspect

The Associated Press

        The city of Cincinnati must reinstate a fired police officer who admitted planting drugs on a suspect and smoking marijuana himself, a judge has ruled.

        The ruling Wednesday means Sgt. John Sess could return to his job next week, an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police said.

        The city fired Sgt. Sess in 1997 for his admissions, ending his 23-year career. But in July, an arbitrator ruled the city didn't prove that Sgt. Sess should be disciplined for planting marijuana on a suspect or for previously smoking the drug while off duty.

        The planted drugs were used to trick a suspect into confessing to a real crime, and courts have held that trickery is acceptable to induce a confession.

        The arbitrator ordered that Sgt. Sess, 46, be reinstated. The city challenged that ruling in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, where Judge Fred Cartolano upheld the arbitrator's decision.

        Police officers will have a hard time trusting Sgt. Sess now, said an officer who graduated with him from the Police Academy.

        “It's going to be extremely difficult for guys to work next to John Sess because of that trust issue,” said Spc. Roger Webster, chairman of the police union's grievance committee.

        Sgt. Sess made the admissions while taking a polygraph test for a potential job transfer to a narcotics investigation unit. He didn't get the job.

        The arbitrator said Sgt. Sess couldn't be punished for smoking pot off duty — especially if the two other officers who used the drug with him during a 1983 fishing trip weren't punished.

        Sgt. Sess also couldn't be punished for planting the marijuana on a man he was arresting because the drugs that the suspect threw away — and not the drugs planted on him by Sgt. Sess — were used to convict the man, the arbitrator concluded.


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