An officer’s betrayal: Decorated black FWPD officer fights for job, reputation
Frost Editor | October 7, 2014
An officer’s betrayal: Decorated black FWPD officer fights for job, reputation
Son defends father’s service to department, community
Editor’s note: Over the years, Fort Wayne Police Officer Frederick “Fred” Rogers Sr. has earned a reputation as one of the city’s most well-known law enforcement officials. During his tenure in the Detective Bureau, Rogers compiled a stellar record of cases solved—particularly homicides. He’s also a familiar face throughout the black community providing security for various events and visiting dignitaries. He’s also won numerous law enforcement awards and accolades. Despite all his success, Rogers would admit that it hasn’t always been smooth sailing between him and the department’s upper echelon. He’s had to defend his work, record and reputation on a number of occasions, during which he said he’s been targeted unfairly for criticism and disciplinary action. Rogers is currently facing department actions against him for alleged “ghost employment.” His son, Fredrick Rogers Jr., wrote the following in his father’s defense.
By Fredrick Rogers Jr.
Special to Frost Illustrated
What began as a simple allegation of ghost employment now has a veteran police officer fighting for his career.
I have watched my father as I have grown up. I have watched him undergo stress, and struggle with the job that he has worked for 33 years. I am the oldest of his three sons and his namesake.
Fredrick Rogers Sr. joined the Fort Wayne Police Department in 1981 to make a better life for his family and to have a prideful, more challenging career. But what he got instead has been a career filled with strife, backstabbing and a lack of support from his command. We, his children have seen the community come together to support him. He has long-standing relationships made from years of coaching Metro football, Village Woods baseball, Unique Track Club, and assistant track coach at Paul Harding High School. He performed security jobs in Fort Wayne Community Schools and Anthis and various other establishments throughout the city.
It was this rapport that he has built through generations of citizens that has served him well in his contacts and cooperative support, whether it be Community Policing or a homicide investigation in which the citizens have come to rely on him. And they have appreciated his dedication and efforts, appreciation that he has never felt from the Fort Wayne Police Department.
And now I have seen with my very eyes the proof that the upper command of that department does not appreciate him.
My brother and I came from out of town to stand with him in support throughout his appeal before the Board of Safety, along with my sisters and the rest of the family, friends and co-workers of my father. We have been told that in the past other police officers have been allowed to have open hearings but we were not allowed inside the hearing room. Although it was of the understanding that there had been a “gag order” put into effect concerning the appeals hearing, (which was later lifted at the conclusion of the hearing), Sergeant James Seay of Internal Affairs (IA) approached me in the hallway before the hearing and asked me “if I knew who he was?” as if he was trying to get some sort of response out of me. I remained neutral. I did not know where he was coming from but I did not feel that it was from a good place.
You see, around the first part of May of this year, Sergeant Rogers was notified by Sergeant Seay of Internal Affairs of the Fort Wayne Police Department that he was being investigated for ghost employment, an administrative misdemeanor offense for allegedly overlapping work for city police with a job at a local food restaurant.
An interview was conducted at which time Sergeant Rogers stated that he had not worked on the original two days in question (April 3, 4); another officer had worked for him. That officer, when interviewed advised that he had worked for Sergeant Rogers, but was given dates other than April 3 and 4 when questioned and was answering off of memory. Once he was able to check his phone records, however, the officer verified April 3 and 4 as when he had indeed worked for Sergeant Rogers. At that point, Sergeant Rogers was notified by IA that he had been cleared of the ghost employment allegation.
The IA Department’s “investigation” consisted of speaking with a general manager of the food establishment over the phone who had never actually worked with Sergeant Rogers during his employment. The hours that the general manager gave IA were not even the actual hours that Sergeant Rogers worked. They also spoke with another manager, either on the phone or in person, who verified that Sergeant Rogers had not committed ghost employment. However, Sergeant Seay decided not to utilize this manager’s statement, as he felt that this witness was lying.
On a later date, two FOP Representatives, Mitch McKinney and Rod Bradtmueller met with Chief of Police Garry Hamilton on Sergeant Rogers’ behalf, at which time they informed my father that he was to receive 180 days’ suspension and to be demoted from sergeant to patrolman, or he could retire and there would be no charges filed. Sergeant Rogers informed the reps to notify Chief Hamilton that he would not accept either of the two choices.
Later still, Chief Hamilton asked to meet with the same two reps and Sergeant Rogers. Also present was Assistant Chief Steve Reed. At that time, Chief Hamilton presented Sergeant Rogers with documentation ordering him to be suspended for 180 days. Sergeant Rogers refused to sign this, stating that he would be appealing the disciplinary action.
What a “coincidence” then, that on May 19, the disciplinary action stating that Sergeant Rogers received 180 days suspension and a demotion from sergeant to patrolman was found filed in his personnel file ANYWAY. The only way it was found was because the FOP Rep had requested a copy of Sergeant Rogers’ personnel file. The reason that was given by the chief of police as to how it made it’s way into the file? It got in there by mistake. ????!!!!!!
On May 30, all witnesses and persons involved in the investigation met with the three members of the Board of Safety. The following next several paragraphs is what occurred during the Appeal before the Board of Safety:
The two employees of the food establishment gave statements that would indicate that Sergeant Rogers fulfilled his obligation of two hours of employment. They informed the board that he would lock the doors at closing and if he had arrived late, he would return in the morning and make up the time to complete his two hours. They further stated that the food establishment had no issues with my father’s employment.
The City then called Cpt. Paul Smith who gave statements that would indicate that he had watched Sergeant Rogers while he was at this food establishment. He stated that Sergeant Rogers would call on duty from this location and he had observed him sitting inside the establishment after 9:30 p.m. Cpt. Smith is in Sergeant Rogers’ direct chain of command. He was asked by the Board if he felt that Sergeant Rogers was wrong for remaining at the food establishment after 9:30 p.m., the time he was to be working for the City. Cpt. Smith stated that he didn’t have a problem with Sergeant Rogers being at the food establishment. He stated that officers don’t have set times to eat; they eat when time allows. He further stated that sergeants work under a different protocol than patrolmen; sergeants have more freedom of movement and are not held to restraints within their quadrants.
The City then spent the next hour explaining the Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) which simply is another name for a GPS. (The showing of how the system works didn’t have anything to do with the two days (April 3 and 4 being the only dates that Sergeant Rogers had been questioned about during his IA interview with Sergeant Seay.)
Chief Hamilton informed the Board that he and Sergeant Rogers were close friends and that he could tell when Sergeant Rogers was lying from the audible recording of the interview he had with Sergeant Seay. The chief also stated that their close friendship was the reason that he had felt compelled to offer Sergeant Rogers a 180 days suspension and demotion for his many years of service. The meeting was ended with the City having presented its entire case. All parties were to convene the following week at which time Sergeant Rogers and his attorney would present their case.
The following week, all parties were present. Sergeant Rogers was instructed by his attorney to tell the Board who the “real Sergeant Rogers was,” which was totally different than that person that the City had described. Sergeant Rogers explained to the Board that Chief Hamilton had told an untruth himself when he stated that he and Sergeant Rogers were friends and that there were reasons for them not being friends. However, Sergeant Rogers explained to the Board that this was not the forum for that discussion, even though the Safety Director Rusty York, the City Attorney Tim Manges, as well as Chief Hamilton are all well aware of the reasons. Sergeant Rogers further stated that he and the Chief are not friends; they don’t socialize together; he has never visited his home nor has he visited his. They have never ridden in the same vehicle nor sat down at the same dinner table together.
Chief Hamilton stated that during the previous week, he had reviewed Sergeant Rogers’ disciplinary record and afterwards felt that my father was unfit to be an officer or sergeant of the Fort Wayne Police Department and had nothing to offer the police department.
I wonder if the community feels the same way? I think that they would wholeheartedly say otherwise. There is no way to quantitatively or qualitatively measure just what Sergeant Rogers has meant to the City of Fort Wayne. For the chief of police to form his mouth to glibly state in so much of a wanton manner that my father has nothing more to offer the department is the lowest form of disrespect that one can receive and I and the rest of the family take it as a personal affront upon our father because that summation was delivered with such egregiousness.
Sergeant Rogers asked the chief if it was fair to look only at an officer’s disciplinary record without looking at that officer’s accomplishments and awards. He received no response.
Sergeant Rogers then attempted to give a presentation on the projector screen of the many accolades and awards he has received during his thirty three years as a Fort Wayne Police Officer. (The Board cut my father off prior to his presentation being completed and he was not allowed to finish.) Sergeant Rogers has been a Hostage Negotiator, Voice Stress Examiner, Computerized Face Recognition Composite Drawer, SWAT Team Member, Financial Investigator, Bicycle Certified, and Lead Homicide Investigator from 1980-1988. As a homicide detective, Sergeant Rogers had a solvability rating in the high 90 percentile range, a number that would rival ANY police department across the country as well as a MONUMENTAL difference when compared with the homicide solve rate of the last several years.
Sergeant Rogers made reference to the Ex-Chief Rusty York, who was present at both today’s and last week’s Appeal. He gave examples of how Chief York had failed the City by not taking advantage of Sergeant Rogers’ knowledge and success as a Homicide Investigator to ask for his further assistance in more recent years as the homicides spiraled out of control. Instead, his expertise was squandered as a sergeant. Those talents could have been BEST utilized as a deputy chief in charge of Homicide, but Rusty York made the mistake not to place him as a resource that could have been a win for the Department, the community, and most importantly, the families of the homicide victims.
Sergeant Rogers’ attorney then called other employees of the food establishment to testify who gave statements that Sergeant Rogers was paid for services rendered and that the food establishment had no qualms with Sergeant Rogers about the hours he worked from October 2013 to April 2014.
Sergeant Rogers’ attorney closed out the Appeal before the Board of Public Safety stating that his client was an exemplary officer whose career is “being thrown away over charges that have not been proven”.
As stated earlier in this article, the gag order that was originally set at the Appeal hearing before the Board of Public Safety was lifted and that is why the information from that hearing is being referenced in this article.
One can only ask, then, from looking at all of the facts: is it personal, or is it professional past, bad blood that has been keeping the former and current Police Chiefs from doing right by my father? Sergeant Rogers has been continuously overlooked in getting what is owed to him, by way of recognition, promotions, etc., but also for the overall good that HE has done or COULD have done for the police department and the community as well.
Sergeant Rogers continues to fight for his career as of the writing of this article. He awaits the Board of Safety’s ruling, which will be rendered next month. He is being supported by both the FOP and PBA. Councilman Glynn A. Hines has pledged his support, and the Reverend Michael Latham and other clergymen of Fort Wayne, as well as fellow black police officers called The Guardians of Police.
Could you keep Sergeant Rogers in your prayers? He has given the City of Fort Wayne his own pound of flesh with blood, sweat and tears for the past 33 years.
You can show your support, either by contacting the mayor directly at (260) 427-1111 or on Facebook (city of fort wayne-municipal government) or visit http:www.cityoffortwayne.org/.
We need to hear from YOU!!!!! THE COMMUNITY!!!!!
Thank you for your attention to this most urgent matter.
Fredrick Rogers Jr.