Paperwork troubles lead to officer's demotion
By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
TAMPA -- Jane Siling, one of the Tampa Police Department's highest-ranking officers, was demoted Wednesday for not filing paperwork on time for federal grants.
The results of a three-month internal affairs investigation showed that Siling violated a department policy concerning "attentiveness to duty," which requires that all employees submit reports in a timely manner.
". . . the late or non-submittal of numerous progress reports over the years by Deputy Chief Siling has caused an accounting nightmare and an embarrassment to the police department," wrote Assistant Chief W.A. Sawyer.
Siling's demotion from deputy chief to major would seem to dash any hope of her ever becoming police chief, a job she has said she wanted.
Siling, 51, could not be reached for comment.
Police Chief Bennie Holder met with her Wednesday to discuss the investigation.
Demoting his chief deputy, who has been with the department for 26 years, was a difficult decision for Holder, said police spokeswoman Katie Hughes.
"We're talking about somebody's life and career here," she said. "It was something that he did not take lightly."
The internal affairs investigation scrutinized Siling's conduct in four areas. She was exonerated of wrongdoing in three of those areas:
-- She did not lie about her level of education.
-- Siling did not change the evaluation of a friend and fellow officer. A handwriting analysis shows that the officer might have made the changes.
-- There was no evidence that she interfered with the investigation into whether two officers tried on Princess Diana's dresses when they were guarding an exhibit of Diana's clothing at the Tampa Museum of Art.
But the investigation determined that Siling fell behind in her federal grant paperwork, touching off a chain reaction of financial confusion.
As the person in charge of the grants, Siling failed to use grant money to reimburse other law enforcement agencies, cellular phone companies and vehicle rental agencies for expenses. The expenses piled up and at one point, Siling paid a $9,756 vehicle lease bill on her own credit card, which was later reimbursed.
Because of the mismanagement, the investigation said, other units within the police department had to use their budgets to pay for the shortfalls.
A review of all of the grant balances showed that there is no money unaccounted for or missing.
Many within the department were awaiting the results of Siling's internal affairs investigation, curious about the findings.
As deputy chief, Siling made $99,000 a year. It is unclear whether her salary will be docked as part of the demotion, Hughes said.
Officers think Holder's decision to demote Siling is fair, said Cpl. Bob Northrup.
"Based on the outcome of the investigation, he did the right thing," Northrup said.
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