An arbitrator has partially reinstated the Las Vegas police lieutenant demoted by the department in the wake of the controversial 2011 Stanley Gibson shooting.
Former Lt. Dave Dockendorf, demoted two ranks to officer by Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie last year, was reinstated to sergeant, said Lt. John Faulis, head of the Las Vegas Police Managers and Supervisors Association.
“We feel that partial vindication has been done,” the union’s leader said. “But we were hoping he’d be reinstated to his previous position.”
Dockendorf’s demotion and appeal became a political issue earlier this month for former Capt. Larry Burns, who recently retired to run for sheriff.
Burns was criticized by Metro officials, including political opponent Ted Moody, for refusing to extend Dockendorf’s probation while the Gibson shooting was still under investigation.
Moody, who was an assistant sheriff supervising Burns at the time, told the Review-Journal that Burns didn’t hold officers accountable. Moody and several other high-ranking police officials said Burns’ move could help Dockendorf’s appeal case.
“If there’s some question about your performance… it’s a no-brainer. You extend the probation,” Moody said at a Tuesday debate hours before the arbitrator’s decision became public.
It’s unclear what factors the arbitrator used to make his decision, or if the report will be released to the public.
Faulis said he’d only read the summary of the report, but said the arbitrator clearly felt Metro’s punishment was too harsh.
“He didn’t feel there was a point where (Dockendorf) was not worthy of being a supervisor at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.”
Upon learning of the decision, Moody said Burns “dropped the ball.”
“Top leaders in this department have to have the courage to hold people accountable,” Moody said. “Now we have to move forward and that will mean working to make Sgt. Dockendorf as productive as he can be at Metro.”
Burns said late Tuesday that he hadn’t seen the arbitrator’s report, but hoped to review it. He hadn’t spoken to Dockendorf, he said.
“I’d like to know what he considered,” he said. “Like every part of this process, I’m in a position to accept it. Our job is to accept it as leadership in Metro. When it’s done, you move on.”
Dockendorf was roundly criticized in the aftermath of the Gibson shooting by Metro officials for poor leadership.
Undersheriff Jim Dixon said Metro will evaluate whether Dockendorf, who had been working as a patrol officer, will need additional training before returning as a supervisor. Dixon said it wasn’t immediately clear where Dockendorf will be assigned.
“We have to help get him right and back into the workforce and be a leader again,” Dixon said.
Faulis said Dockendorf had been a training sergeant at the academy with no discipline history in his personnel file.
“One split-second decision, and they said he wasn’t worthy to be a supervisor,” Faulis said.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283. Follow @blasky on Twitter.