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Eldridge Police Chief: Officer accused of sexual assault of a child quit, wasn't fired

Eldridge Police Chief: Officer accused of sexual assault of a child quit, wasn't fired

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A former Eldridge police officer, arrested in September for sexual abuse of a minor, resigned the night before he was arrested. He wasn't asked to resign, but did so of his own accord, according to Eldridge Police Chief Joseph Sisler.

Sisler said he was called to Denoyer’s residence in Davenport on Monday, Sept. 27, where Denoyer gave him a verbal resignation. Sisler then typed up a written resignation letter which Denoyer signed the next morning at the Eldridge Police Department.

Sometime on Sept. 27 or Sept. 28, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation started investigating Denoyer, according to special investigator Richard Rahn. They arrested Denoyer the evening of Sept. 28 for an alleged May 1 sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl while he was on duty.

Denoyer is charged with third-degree sexual abuse, a Class C felony that carries a prison sentence of 10 years.

In a Sept. 28 letter sent to the Eldridge mayor, city council and city attorney, Sisler explained Denoyer had resigned, and then acknowledged DCI's criminal investigation was underway. 

Resignation in lieu of termination

According to Iowa Law, the human resources records of police officers and other government employees are confidential, with a few exceptions. One is listed in Iowa Code 22.7(11)(a)(5): "the fact that the individual resigned in lieu of termination, was discharged, or was demoted as the result of a disciplinary action," then "the documented reasons and rationale for the resignation in lieu of termination, the discharge, or the demotion," should be considered public record.

Sisler said Denoyer did not resign in lieu of termination.

"Andrew Denoyer verbally resigned on the evening of Sept. 27, 2021. Denoyer was not asked to resign, nor had any internal investigation been opened by the Eldridge Police Department. Denoyer approached me and resigned on his own free accord," Sisler said in an email. 

Per his union contract, Denoyer was compensated for unused vacation days and personal time after resigning and will continue to have health care benefits through the city until Oct. 31, according to Eldridge City Clerk Denise Benson. Benson said that had Denoyer been fired, he would only have received comp time, as that was worked hours. 

Since Denoyer had been a police officer for less than three years, first with Davenport and later with Eldridge, he is not a vested member of IPERS, the Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System. He is entitled to get back any contributions he made to his retirement fund through IPERS, but not any additional retirement benefits, unless he were to be rehired as a police officer and remain long enough to be vested. 

Denoyer resigned from the Davenport Police Department in August 2020, which Davenport officials said was of his own accord, not in lieu of termination.

Revoking police certification

In order to be hired again as a police officer, Denoyer must maintain his police certification from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Revoking that certification is a long process, but is mandatory if a police officer pleads guilty to or is convicted of a felony.

Denoyer hasn't yet entered a plea on the third-degree sexual abuse charge. His arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 14. 

According to Judy Bradshaw, director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, when a police officer resigns or is fired, the department completes a change in status form. If it's a resignation in lieu of termination, that is marked on the form. 

Bradshaw said there are two investigators at the law enforcement academy who monitor those forms and watch for officers who were terminated or resigned in lieu of termination, and for resignations that have any additional notes indicating there was a policy violation, and follow up with the police department, usually with several pages of questions.

The investigators ask about the circumstances surrounding the change in employment status, if there were policy violations and if there was an internal investigation. Then the investigators seek public records, court documents, internal investigation reports, and any other documentation associated with that particular officer. If there is enough evidence to warrant the revocation of certification, the case is brought before the academy counsel.

The counsel decides if the infraction falls under the mandatory revocation requirements. If it does, they vote to petition to decertify the officer. The petition is sent to an administrative law judge who holds a hearing in which the officer can be present and be represented by a lawyer. The administrative law judge then renders a finding, which is sent back to the police academy counsel. The counsel can then choose to ratify, alter or overturn the finding. 

If the officer disagrees with the final decision of the counsel, the appeal process is in district court.

Bradshaw said the agency could not comment or confirm specific investigations.

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