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    Officer quits amid inquiry

    Police Lt. Mike Dunleavy says that he's leaving for another job, and that the timing has nothing to do with the investigation.

    By CHRIS TISCH

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 17, 2001


    LARGO -- A police lieutenant under investigation for allegedly making an inappropriate sexual comment resigned Friday morning, saying he found another job.

    Mike Dunleavy, an eight-year department veteran, was accused in January of making the comment in the presence of a female officer, said Pat Catalano, the city's personnel manager.

    Dunleavy on Friday said the investigation did not prompt his decision. He said he told the city manager in early January that he intended to work elsewhere. A few days later the complaint was filed.

    Dunleavy said he did not resign earlier because he thought it would look like the investigation forced him to quit. But the investigation took so long and, with his future employer wanting him to come to work, he resigned Friday, he said.

    Dunleavy declined to say where he was going to work or whether it was a law enforcement job.

    The investigation was close to complete. Catalano did not conduct it but talked with the investigator, who she said told her "there were probably some things that would be substantiated."

    "My interpretation of what has gone on to this point ... is there is some reason to believe some inappropriate behavior will be sustained," she said. "Now, I don't know if the initial complaint is what will be sustained or some other inappropriate behavior is going to be sustained."

    "I wouldn't even say that's going to be the final determination," Catalano said. "If I say to an investigator "how's it going' and I get a response like "it looks like there may be some inappropriate behavior,' that doesn't mean it will be the final outcome."

    Dunleavy said the comment he was accused of making was not sexual in nature but was misperceived as that. Citing a state law that prevents people from discussing ongoing internal investigation, he declined to talk more about the allegation.

    Dunleavy said he enjoyed his eight years at the department. "Great department, great people. First-class people all the way around. I give them high marks."

    Police spokeswoman Lt. Michelle Smith said she could not comment on the investigation because it was being conducted by the personnel department. The city's personnel department investigated the complaint because of Dunleavy's rank.

    Catalano said she didn't want the public to think the investigation would not be thorough if conducted within the police department. An inquiry by another department would ensure the public that the investigation would be independent, she said.

    Previous sex scandals and unrelated harassment claims involving officers in the past year prompted city officials to require all city employees and volunteers to take sexual harassment training.

    An investigation into allegations officers were having sexual relations with members of the department's Explorer's program substantiated some of those allegations. Two officers were suspended, one resigned. No criminal charges were filed.

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