Three police officers were suspended without pay after their department learned that they were having sex while on city property—serving as a reminder that if the average citizens were caught having sex in city hall, they would have been arrested for lewd behavior while in public. But because police have one standard for themselves and another for the general public, the officers were given only a few days off without pay.
Investigators in Billings, Montana, were not looking to find their officers engaged in sex on city property, but while investigating the theft of drugs from the department's evidence storage facility by a former employee, Rawlyn Strizich, the sex acts were discovered, presumably by video camera footage. The three male officers were seen having sex with Strizich who was fired in February for stealing oxycodone from the evidence storage facility.
All three of the veteran male officers admitted to having sex with Strizich. Police chief Rich St. John confirmed with KTVQ the suspensions did, in fact, take place. According to KTVQ:
St. John said two of the officers were suspended for two weeks without pay because they had sex with Strizich while on duty and on city property — in the basement of City Hall, which is used for records storage. The third officer was suspended without pay for one week because he was off duty but on city property at the time. St. John said that officer had sexual relations with Strizich in a police patrol car.
"We’re talking really good officers who made a bad decision — a really, really bad decision," St. John said. The entire incident has critics scratching their heads and wondering if they too had been caught at city hall having sex, would they have gotten a citation and a court date or such a generous pass like St. John gave the three male officers?
Apparently, the fact that the Billings PD is short-handed was enough of a reason to keep the men on the police force. Surprisingly, the police chief does not even know if they have actually served their suspensions or not, leaving some to wonder if they were even suspended at all.
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St. John said, he gave the commanders who supervise the officers discretion on when to allow the suspensions to be served, but the suspensions have to be served all at once, not one or two days at a time. St. John said he ordered the suspensions three weeks ago, adding, “I don’t know if they served their time yet.”
If the media had not been alerted to the incident, it is unclear if anything would have been done to the officers who still remain unidentified. Several news agencies know their identities but refuse to report their names.
"I look at the work that they have done, whether they’re salvageable, the time that’s elapsed with this thing," St. John told the Billings Gazette. "We have a lot of money invested in these people, and if they’re salvageable, we want to do that. I also want them to learn that this isn’t acceptable behavior and send a message to the rest of the department that this is unacceptable."
This week KTVQ reported that the City of Billings is planning to release the names of the three officers. The resulting shame will certainly rock the lives of the officers, their families, and the community.
Sadly, this story is not the first story published by The Free Thought Project detailing sexual, possibly criminal, actions by officers while on duty. Most often, the officers are suspended, with or without pay, and allowed to remain on the police force despite being guilty of the very thing for which the average citizen would be arrested.