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Officer promoted, then suspended

Appeals have been filed for a new police lieutenant who was stripped of his law-enforcement certification and suspended because of an accusation that he smoked marijuana in 1987. Criminal charges never have been filed against Mack T. Short, who made lieutenant Oct. 1, but he was decertified Oct. 3 after two Florida State Prison guards alleged that he smoked marijuana three years ago. Short was a corrections officer at the time.

Short was suspended without pay Oct. 13 when the Starke Police Department learned he had been decertified by the state Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, Police Chief Jimmy Epps said.

Officers can be decertified for conduct that violates the requirements of certification regardless of whether criminal charges are filed against them, said Joe Kendrick, an official of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Short said Monday that he has never used marijuana and that he resigned from the prison after the allegations arose because a prison official told him he could avoid decertification by quitting.

Short's attorney has filed an appeal with the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee.

Epps said he promoted Short on Oct. 1 from patrol officer to lieutenant because of Short's experience and outstanding work record.

"If he is recertified, there would be no problem taking him back. I wish had 14 more just like him," Epps said.