An Arizona police sergeant who told officers to take only Native Americans to jail for shoplifting will be punished with a demotion so that she can retire with a full pension after 2015.
A Chandler Police Department Internal Affairs investigation obtained by The Arizona Republic said that Sgt. Sue Freeman had responded to a shoplifting problem in south Chandler patrol district, which borders the Gila River Reservation, by ordering officers to jail only Native American shoplifters. Other shoplifters were to be given citations and immediately released.
“Your directive was interpreted by members of your team as removing any discretion for handling a shoplifting investigation and more specifically for singling out a race of people for disparate treatment,” the charges against Freeman indicated.
One officer testified that he had heard Freeman give the instruction to officers as many as 12 times.
Chandler police spokesperson Sgt. Joe Favazzo told The Arizona Republic that officers refused to follow Freeman’s orders.
“I think it was probably a poor choice of words, poor communication,” Favazzo explained. “She was telling her officers not to give them a ticket. It was an unlawful order.”
On Oct. 16, Freeman signed a disciplinary agreement, allowing her to avoid termination and protect her pension. She will be permitted to stay with the department until at least Dec. 31, 2015 or whenever she obtains the 20 years of service needed to retire with benefits.
As a part of the agreement, Freeman was expected to lose her rank as sergeant.
According to The Arizona Republic, she would have received a lighter punishment if she had not already had two disciplinary actions on her record from 2012. Freeman also faces the possibility of termination before she is eligible to retire if she does not follow the terms of the Oct. 16, disciplinary agreement.