Sunday, April 22, 2018
Public safety

Tampa police officer fired for on-duty strip club visit gets job back

TAMPA — One of two Tampa police officers fired for drinking at a strip club while on duty is back to work.

Officer Antonio Ortega was fired a year ago, along with Officer Paul Madsen. The two undercover officers were at the Penthouse on West Shore Boulevard for about seven hours on Nov. 9 while they were supposed to be at work.

Madsen had logged them into work remotely from a computer in his police vehicle, and they kept drinking four hours into their shift. When a supervisor called to ask where they were, Madsen answered: "You don't want to know."

In May, the department fired the pair, wrapping up a seven-month investigation that police Chief Jane Castor said was "very embarrassing."

Though Tampa police fired both men, according to department spokeswoman Laura McElroy, the agency thought it likely that Ortega would get his job back through arbitration with the police union. The agency expected that because it was Madsen — not Ortega — who logged them into work.

Ortega said that he thought his co-worker had instead received permission for them to take the day off work.

The agency allowed Ortega to come back to work in July, cutting short what it believed could be a lengthy legal battle.

Madsen still does not work for the department. The department did change his status from "terminated" to "resigned" as part of the arbitration process.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

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