2 St. Petersburg police officers suspended

One officer was arrested on a drunken driving charge and the other was found to have improperly logged his time cards.
Two St. Petersburg police have officers have received lengthy suspensions without pay.
Two St. Petersburg police have officers have received lengthy suspensions without pay. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Sept. 12, 2022|Updated Sept. 12, 2022

Two St. Petersburg police officers have been suspended without pay, one after a DUI arrest and the other for failing to correct errors in his time log.

Neither officer has had any previous disciplinary records, Police Chief Anthony Holloway said.

According to an agency news release, Officer Cody Csendom was arrested on a drunken driving charge on Nov. 22, 2021, after he crashed into a Hillsborough power pole while driving his own car.

Csendom has been suspended for 160 hours and will be subject to random alcohol and drug testing for 18 months, during which time he is also not allowed to drink alcohol, the release states. He must also participate in counseling through the agency’s Employee Assistance Program and has been demoted from the K9 unit to a patrol squad.

Csendom has been an officer with the department since 2017. The drunken driving charge is still pending in court.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office’s policy is to terminate employees arrested on drunken driving charges, but the St. Petersburg Police Department has no such policy.

“I can’t speak for any other chief or any other sheriff,” Holloway said in an interview. “I look at it as officers are human, they make mistakes. ... The next thing is, can I save that officer that we’ve invested a lot of time and effort into?”

St. Petersburg police spokesperson Yolanda Fernandez said a 160-hour suspension is standard for officers who have been arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge.

In the other case, Officer Brandon Bill was suspended for 250 hours without pay after supervisors found that his commute was logged as on-duty time in his time cards and that a vacation day was marked as time worked. The agency reviewed six months of Bill’s time logs and GPS locations after they found he had failed to properly mark a vacation day.

Fernandez said the officer worked a flexible schedule on the Marine Unit and his failures to correctly log his time were due more to sloppiness than intentional deception, as he failed to correct an auto-populated time log. However, given the number of instances this occurred, the agency could not overlook his errors, she said.

Bill joined the agency on Nov. 3, 2008. He has been demoted from the Marine Unit to a patrol squad and 100 hours will be removed from his accrued vacation to make up for the time that was improperly logged.

“The biggest thing is he’s going to serve a suspension without pay, but he’s also going to give the taxpayers their money back,” Holloway said.