Review panel overturns Dorman firing

A three-member civilian review panel on Friday reversed Police Chief Brenda Davis-Jones’ decision to fire Lt. Rowland Dorman, electing instead for a lesser punishment.

The panel, composed of Assistant City Attorney Daryl Taylor, Fire and Emergency Services Capt. James Jackson, and City Inspection and Zoning Director Robert Tucker voted to reduce Dorman’s rank from lieutenant to sergeant and suspend him for 30, eight-hour work days. He was also ordered to complete a training course on sexual harassment and will not be eligible for promotion for one year.

Davis-Jones fired Dorman Jan. 24 after receiving complaints that Dorman, who was a shift commander in the Patrol Division, harassed Officer Traci McDonel, who was assigned to his shift.

“We have a zero tolerance about sexual harassment,” Davis-Jones said at the review hearing Tuesday. “He has admitted 90 percent of the allegations and that alone justifies termination.”

According to the complaint, Dorman called McDonel “eye candy,” hugged her, and followed her while she was working on patrol. He also allegedly kissed her on the top of the head or forehead.

In his testimony before the review panel, Dorman denied calling McDonel “eye candy” but did admit that he had called her “candy.”

He also admitted hugging her when he took over the night shift where McDonel was assigned, saying that “the first night, she came up to me and hugged my neck and said she was ‘glad I was her lieutenant.’”

“I said I’m glad to have you so I will have something to look at beside all these ugly guys,” Dorman said. “She hugged me and I hugged her.”

Dorman denied following McDonel around.

“I found every officer on my shift at one time or the other,” he said. “If they were stopped, I went to see if they were OK.”

Dorman, who was named Officer of the Year twice during his 23 and-a-half year career, said the statements he made to McDonel were made in “joking, kidding manner, and were never to be taken seriously.”

He also said McDonel never complained to him about the statements.

He told the review panel he believed he was fired in retaliation for complaints about going to 12-hour shifts, and for speaking out against a pass-fail system for applicants taking a captain’s test.”

Davis-Jones denied that retaliation for complaints about 12-hour shifts or the promotional exam was the reason Dorman was fired.

“He wasn’t the only one to complain about the 12-hour shifts. Most of the command staff didn’t agree but I knew we had to put more cars on the road,” the police chief said.

“I never targeted Dorman,” she said. “I never have and I never will.”

According to the final disposition report from the review committee, Dorman was eligible for reinstatement Thursday.

From the Archives:

Former PB police lieutenant appeals firing — Feb. 21, 2012
Council asks mayor to consider hiring consultant for police department — Feb. 21, 2012