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Cop Fired For Responding to Officer Down Call

Cop Fired For Responding to Officer Down Call

The Houston Chronicle via YellowBrix

June 08, 2011

HOUSTON, TX – Law enforcement leaders are stepping up criticism of Rice University’s firing of a police officer who responded to an armed standoff off-campus last month with a man who shot two HPD officers before turning the gun on himself.

Rice University terminated the officer, David Sedmak, for dereliction of duty for leaving his post to get to the call near the downtown Greyhound station. Sedmak responded to the scene when he heard the call on his police scanner.

“You don’t fire a guy for this unless he’s a chronic disciplinary problem,” said Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association, at a news conference Monday. “You call him in, you counsel him and you put him back out there (to work). If he’s a good cop, he’s a good employee. You use this as a training opportunity.”

On May 7, the suspect, Jesse Brown, 20, was spotted with a pistol as he tried to buy a ticket at the Greyhound station at 2121 Main.

Brown shot Houston police officer Fernando Meza, who was working an off-duty job at the bus station and confronted Brown about the pistol. Meza was hit in the hand. Moments later, Brown also shot Houston police officer Timothy Moore in the leg outside a nearby McDonald’s. The two officers joined about 25 other police officials Monday in a show of support.

“In this case, Officer Sedmak’s reward was he was fired,” said Ray Hunt, vice president of the Houston Police Officers Union.

Hunt presented Sedmak with a $2,500 check Monday to help him as he tries to land another job.

Sedmak said he was astounded to learn he was being fired for helping fellow officers in distress.

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Former Rice University police officer David Sedmak has drawn support from Houston police.

“My only concern on that day was to render aid to these two officers,” he said. "… Quite frankly, I couldn’t believe that after being in law enforcement for nearly 17 years that I was being relieved of my duty for running an assist to an officer.

“There’s been a lot of talk about me being a hero, and I just want to say personally that the real heroes here are these two officers and the job that they performed on that day,” said Sedmak, a former Galveston police officer.

University spokesman B.J. Almond declined to comment about Sedmak’s firing, but he provided a statement from the university.

“As a matter of policy, Rice University does not comment on personnel matters,” the statement reads. “However, out of respect for the Houston Police Department, we want to clarify that David Sedmak was terminated from the Rice University Police Department for dereliction of duty. Sedmak left his post when only two other officers were on duty and failed to notify his supervisor of his whereabouts for nearly an hour, which could have endangered the safety of our students and campus.”

Almond said that Rice University police officers frequently assist other law enforcement agencies near the university on a case-by-case basis. In the first five months of 2011, the department responded to 37 calls for help from adjacent police agencies.

“In all instances, Rice officers are required to promptly notify the RUPD dispatcher of their location and the situation … (to) ensure that enough officers are on duty on campus to protect the safety of our students and employees,” according to the statement.


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  • Malvern_patch_max50

    dussery

    about 3 years ago

    8 Comments

    This is what happens when civilians are put in charge of Law Enforcement hiring and disciplinary action. They don't understand the calling of the job, nor the responsibility felt by an officer to help when things go bad for one of his or her brothers.
    It's sad really. While he did make an error by not notifying his dispatch where he was, it is a small correction that could have easily been handled with a closed door "talking to".
    Rice University doesn't deserve Sedmak.

  • Usmc_rifle_team_match_max50

    jhall41

    about 3 years ago

    70 Comments

    This would be one of those typical better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission situations except for a few facts with most previously being mentioned. The officer just didn’t leave his post he abandoned it. In doing so he placed lives at risk of the people he was being paid and had the responsibility to protect. Would not the Houston police department expect notification under the same circumstances? Any hiring supervisor would have to seriously consider the reason for termination on his application. Being a seasoned veteran officer the procedure should have been executed automatically while he was responding. Had the campus gone into lock down and his post was abandoned it not only would have been a huge liability issue but a dangerous one as well. Not being informed of his whereabouts could have resulted in very serious delays in providing security coverage for the campus. The supervisor would not even know if he was hurt or where to send assistance wasting additional critical resources. Additionally, had he gotten hurt, hurt someone or wrecked his vehicle while on an unauthorized mission would raise serious liability questions. Unfortunately, no matter how noble the cause the total sum of the facts in this incident outweighed the attaboys. So unnecessary, especially by being completely preventable by simply following departmental protocol and SOP. Not the first time good intentions backfired.

  • Imagesca4darnm_max50

    Sara22

    about 3 years ago

    40 Comments

    He should get hired by the Houston PD.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 3 years ago

    Surely not how I would have treated officer Sedmak.

  • 11_max50

    DarkKnight77587

    about 3 years ago

    94 Comments

    REPOST from my earlier Post - KEEP IT GOING!!
    ******************************************************************************
    The following is from a Houston Talk Show Host. His website is: http://www.ktrh.com/pages/michaelberry.html
    You can hear the radio call Officer Sedmak listened to at this web site as well as Michael Berry interviewing Officer Sedmak.
    Its interesting to note that the Officer had just be trained as a trainer in Feb. - sent by Rice university - to an ACTIVE SHOOTER School.
    ********************************************************
    Call the following people at Rice and politely tell them this is unacceptable.
    Chief of Police William Taylor: 713-348-6333
    Main number for the police: 713-348-6000
    University President David Leebron: 713-348-5050
    Exec. Asst. to the President: 713-348-5049
    Main number for the university: 713-348-0000

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    granny1

    about 3 years ago

    1448 Comments

    this is pure and simple bull shit!

  • Swat_teaser_fin_sm001_max50

    lds0719

    about 3 years ago

    150 Comments

    Kudos Officer Sedmak. If anything, the Houston PD should open a position for him!

  • Homer_nytp_max50

    NYTPD12

    about 3 years ago

    214 Comments

    Wow, this seems to be one of those topics that gets people really heated under the collar. I'm one of those that would prefer that the Officer respect his post and those that depend on him for possible backup, however, I say this with great reservation for the following incident that I experienced many years ago.

    I was on a Southbound number 4 train heading into Manhattan when I pulled a disorderly man off at 86st and Lexington Ave. It was late in the evening and many things were going on all over the city. It was during the winter also so I had my winter gear on. The tunnels though were very hot from the trains. Well, to keep it short, I ended up getting into a struggle with this man and I called for assistance. The struggle went on for what seemed to be almost ten minutes when I felt myself beginning to faint from heat exhaustion due to my heavy coat. My buddy who had been far on the west side of Manhattan & was not supposed to respond to another train line, heard my call for help, left his post and showed up right in the nick of time. He was not supposed to, but he did at his own risk. I believe that I may not even be alive today had he not ignored the "rules" that night. I believe he was a gift from G-d to me that night.

    Well needless to say that I never wore that coat again with the heavy poly insert. I got myself a thin breathable jacket that helped me stay warm and yet not contribute to heat exhaustion.

    With this in mind I imagine that this Officer was better than a cup of cold water for the two Officers that were in distress. This however, does not excuse the violation of policy and rules of the University.

    Can I tell of one other story that I recall. Back in the day we had one "gun-ho" transit Officer that always got involved in anything that the City put out over the radio. To understand the frustration that this was for the other guys on the transit force you have to understand that there were not many of us on any given night shift. Transit used different radios and frequencies from the City police. The two officers that were assigned to a vehicle where depended on to quickly respond to assistance of lone transit Officers along the rail lines. These post were many times many miles apart and so we knew that help would not come very quick if we needed it.

    Well this one knuckle head who we called the golden boy, for never getting in trouble for his stupidity, often would become involved in city incidents leaving those of us on foot patrol with no real back up if we needed it. Those of us on foot patrol learned as time went on that if this golden boy was in the car, we needed to lay low and basically out of sight to avoid involvement in something that we might not have back up for.

    So you see, as noble and well intended as this Officer's actions were, in the end I would come down on the side of the University's policy. His actions put his own small department and his fellow Officers in great jeopardy. I hope that we can see both sides of this controversial issue. The jurisdiction needs to be respected as well as those that depend on you. I have to add that this Officer should have had the type of trust in his command to have informed them of the incident coming over the radio and request permission to respond. This would have put everyone else on the shift on higher alert, not only for their post, but also for each other's safety.

    In the end this Officer will have to live with his decision and its consequences.

    Stay safe and be well.

  • Jack-sparrow-pirates-of-the-caribbean_max50

    Tetra021

    about 3 years ago

    492 Comments

    Wow just WOW!! Hopefully he can get onto the Houston PD.

  • Dsc00052_max50

    LtD

    about 3 years ago

    200 Comments

    I, too, am saddened at the termination decision. I hope there is an opportunity for a change in discipline. I do have to admit that there might be more than meets the eye to this event...including history that we are unaware. Devil's advocate position here..... Department's can not tolerate independant decisions that potentially forfeit the safety of the community. Imagine if every agency was staffed by scanner-nut officers who run to calls in neighboring jurisdictions when they deem it is necessary to do so. An hour with no knowledge of where he is what he was doing??? Nobody amongst us would find that satisfactory, regardless of how noble the reason. There are mutual aid systems in place to call for needed resources. Had this criminal somehow made his way to Rice campus while Sedmak was gone and unavailable, I think we'd have some more understanding for this being unacceptable. I will conclude this by stating again; I don't feel this is worthy of termination because of the reasons behind him leaving his assignment.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Mike_K

    about 3 years ago

    34 Comments

    What a bunch of c _ _ p. I'm sure some pencil pusher who has never once had his life endangered thought - S _ _ t, what if Sedmak had shot the bad guy? Yes, he probably saved the lives of two officers but what is our (Rice Universitys) exposure (liability risk) on this. I will be willing to bet that the liability card was thought of and you can bet that the University's attorney was consulted before the officer was fired. Ofc. Sedmak, you are a hero! God Speed!

  • Az_phx_motorcade1a_max50

    Bury

    about 3 years ago

    1342 Comments

    All great comments, I love to see the LEO community upset over such BS!!

  • Homer_nytp_max50

    NYTPD12

    about 3 years ago

    214 Comments

    I remember back in the day when the Transit Police of NYC were not considered Police Officers on the same level of NYPD. Never mind that we all went to the same academy and then picked and sent where ever the powers that were decided. I was one of the ones chosen for Transit. Often we were told not to respond to City calls with the threat of the same as this University Officer got. I hear what the University is saying with regards to the Officer leaving his area of jurisdiction, however, there should be some real exceptions and this should be one of them.

    This is really an interesting situation and although it is unthinkable to know that someone is in need of help and be expected to ignor such a call of distress, the organization has policies that should be followed. Again, this should be one of those exceptions to allow for assisting of a Police Officer off campus.

    I think I can say a lot more on this and I recall so many times of similar situations years ago on Transit, but I don't have too much time right now.

  • Cops4christ_max50

    SpencerStangz

    about 3 years ago

    422 Comments

    Good job Ofc Sedmak. Sounds like Houston Police has a potential new recruit to hire!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    FGS

    about 3 years ago

    28 Comments

    The University patch on his shirt says POLICE. Meaning, observe, respond, protect and arrest. If they don't want police officers which includes tactics and dedication, then they should change the patch to SECURITY.

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