Attorney: Covington police chief retaliating against officer who arrested refs

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 19, 2014 at 7:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 19 at 7:41 PM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

COVINGTON- The attorney for a Covington Police Officer, punished for arresting high school football referees, and now under investigation again, says the police chief is retaliating against his client for fighting back. 

A recorded conversation between Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz, and one of the referees arrested by Covington Sgt. Stephen Short at an October football game, has set off a new controversy.
 
Short, who was suspended for ten days and demoted for the arrests, requested that phone recording and two others for his appeal of that punishment, set for next month. But Lentz said in Short's request, he gave exact dates, times and parties of those conversations that occurred on police department phone lines, which are recorded. That put up red flags for Lentz, who is now looking into how Short may have accessed those recordings to know they existed, if he had help to do so and whether those actions are possible violations of department policy. Short is on paid administrative leave during the probe.
 
Chief Lentz declined an on-camera interview, citing the pending investigation, but Short’s attorney says how they knew about the recordings shouldn’t matter.
 
Michael Fawer said, "It strikes me, that as long ago as Watergate, when Nixon tried to exert executive privilege, in response to a subpoena, the Supreme Court told him that he can't do it, and this is no different."
 
Eyewitness News spoke to a civil service expert about this situation, who says, while there may be a department rule in Covington regarding improper access to information, the investigation seems to be a stretch.
 
"How have they been able to identify Mr. Short as accessing the database,” asked Attorney Eric Hessler, “It could have been passed on to him, it could have been passed on to his attorney by a third party so it sort of seems like they're putting the cart before the horse a little bit."
 
It’s a situation that seems to be growing, instead of getting closer to an end.
 
The chief has 60 days to complete his investigation, which includes an interview with Short within 30 days.

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