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Officer appeals one-day suspension

(ran West edition)

The Pinellas Park police officer, accused of being sarcastic and disruptive, wants lost pay and an investigation.

A police officer who was suspended for a day without pay has filed a grievance saying she was disciplined for no reason.

Cynthia Martin wants her suspension reversed, payment of lost wages, a full investigation into the situation, and to have the sergeant who suspended her removed from supervising her.

"This is the third occasion in which he has personally involved himself in an unfair assessment of me," Martin wrote in her grievance.

Pinellas Park police Chief Dorene Thomas said it likely will not be until next week before she makes a decision about Martin's allegations.

Martin was suspended last week after Sgt. Anthony Motley accused her of making sarcastic comments and being disruptive during read off. Read off is the first activity on an officer's shift. It's the time when officers are told of problems in the city and of policy or other changes.

Motley also accused Martin of yelling at him while he tried to counsel her about her attitude during read off.

"You continued to yell in the hallway and refused to leave after being ordered three times," Motley wrote in his report of the incident.

Martin's actions, Motley said, interfered with his and other employees' work.

Martin described the situation otherwise in her grievance.

"Sgt. Motley's allegations in support of this discipline are untrue," Martin wrote. "I did not engage in disruptive or insubordinate conduct."

Martin said she asked to go home and it was not until just before she left the building that he relieved her of her badge and gun. Then he called her at home to tell her of the one-day suspension without pay.

In addition, Martin alleged that Motley "improperly used his authority to cause harm to my employment."

Among Motley's alleged misdeeds:

+ He denied her "respectful, impartial and fair working conditions by belittling me in front of other officers."

+ He wrote an "untruthful" account of her conduct and his conduct.

+ He "intimidated" witnesses who were present at read off and roll call.

Bill LauBach, executive director of the Pinellas County Police Benevolent Association, which is helping Martin appeal the suspension, agreed there were problems with the way the situation was handled.

According to LauBach, the dispute began during read off when Motley misspoke about a policy. Martin said something and voices were raised. Martin said words to the effect that she'd keep her mouth shut. Motley ordered her to his office after read off.

"He told her to go home," LauBach said. "He said, "I want your badge and your gun' and that's an issue as to whether or not he could relieve her of duty administratively. . . . Motley wasn't even her immediate supervisor. There was no reason to suspend her."

LauBach added, "She did not understand she was being suspended for one day."

Martin did not immediately leave the building because she wanted to talk with her union representative, he said.

LauBach said it should have been handled differently.

"I think it could have waited another day until tempers cooled down," he said. "I don't know what the problem is. Everybody knows Cindy is outspoken. That's no secret around there."

Attorney Katherine Kyres has said that Martin was suspended in retaliation for a federal lawsuit she and fellow Officer Donna Saxer filed against the city. The suit alleges Martin and Saxer are victims of gender discrimination in the Pinellas Park Police Department.

Commenting last week about the issues of retaliation and discrimination, LauBach said: "It seems that she's been treated rather decently by the majority of people, but I guess there are a few people who choose to act the way they act. I suspect all that will be aired at her grievance appeals."