Tucson City Council accepts TPD lieutenant’s rank restoration

2014-05-21T16:00:00Z 2014-05-21T16:05:30Z Tucson City Council accepts TPD lieutenant’s rank restorationBy Darren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Tucson won’t challenge a court ruling restoring the rank of a police lieutenant demoted for sharing sexually explicit pictures of herself with a subordinate officer.

The council voted 4-3 after a closed-door session not to appeal a Pima County Superior Court judge’s order to restore  officer Diana Lopez’s lieutenant rank.

Lopez was demoted to sergeant in November 2012 for sending racy photos and videos to a subordinate officer she was dating.

Lopez appealed her demotion to the city’s Civil Service Commission. But the commission upheld the punishment, leading her to file a lawsuit.

Superior Court Judge Charles Harrington reversed the commission’s decision on grounds that the Tucson Police Department lacked a clear policy in regard to employees sharing sexually explicit materials with someone they are dating.

Lopez’s attorney, Michael Piccarreta, said the council made the smart move to stop wasting time and money investigating the private affairs of an officer.

“It permits police to focus on police work and not on police officers’ private lives,” Piccarreta said.

Councilwoman Regina Romero, who voted against the appeal, said she sided with the judge’s findings.

“I felt spending more time and money on this case would not be prudent,” Romero said.

Even though the city declined, the Civil Service Commission can still file an appeal, said City Attorney Mike Rankin.

But Piccarreta said it would be highly unusual and display a bias against Lopez if the commission elects to fight Harrington’s ruling.

As a result of the court order, TPD will begin to examine its existing policies regarding the sharing of provocative material and other matters related to this issue, Rankin said.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com. Follow on Twitter @DarrenDaRonco

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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