Thursday, May 24, 2018
Public safety

Tampa officer fired for drinking at strip club was canned before

TAMPA — When the Tampa Police Department fired Officer Paul Madsen last week for drinking on duty at a strip club, it wasn't the first time the agency told him to go.

Madsen had been fired from the force in 2003, accused of taunting, while he was off-duty, a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy working at the Channelside entertainment complex.

Madsen called the deputy "boy" and used a racial epithet, according to a notice of disciplinary action in his city personnel file.

The episode is one of several problematic incidents listed in his personnel file during his tenure with the city — including mouthing off to a supervisor, showing up disheveled in court and leaving a gun in his cruiser.

The altercation that led to his previous termination started when Madsen and some friends went out to a club, and one of his friends starting arguing with security. When a sheriff's deputy working there on extra duty intervened, Madsen "continued to yell, taunt and refuse to obey the deputy's commands," according to the notice.

The Hillsborough deputy wrote everything down in a report, and the Police Department opened an internal investigation on Madsen.

He was fired a year later after that investigation determined he had abused his position, showed insubordination and lied.

But in January 2004, the Police Department rehired Madsen after he filed a grievance and the police union fought successfully on his behalf.

The Tampa Police Benevolent Association and the department came to an agreement. Then-Chief Steve Hogue reduced the internal affairs finding from "sustained" to "unsubstantiated."

Madsen came back to work at $29.79 an hour, records show.

He was fired again Friday after a different internal investigation determined he and fellow Officer Antonio Ortega drank while on duty Nov. 9 to the point of obvious intoxication.

They were at the Penthouse Club, a strip club on West Shore Boulevard.

Although Madsen's evaluation a few months before the incident reflects nothing but high marks, his 23 years at the agency are peppered with problems.

He caused three traffic accidents, according to his personnel file.

He failed to properly conduct a sexual battery case, keeping the victim waiting so long while he did other tasks that she eventually left before she could be examined for evidence at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

He showed up to testify in court unshaven. When reprimanded, he called a supervisor a derogatory name.

He left a gun in his patrol car while transporting suspects in 1998.

And in 1991, the records show, he got in trouble for harassing his girlfriend's estranged husband and for using a racial slur when speaking to the man.

Times staff writer Laura C. Morel contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

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