A Kansas City police officer accused of making sexually inappropriate comments to a college journalism student during a ride-along in 2014 faced police board members Friday in an effort to save his job.
Officer Herschel Rodgers was among several people who testified during the hearing at Police Headquarters. Dozens of other officers attended to support him.
Police board members said it will take about a month before they decide whether to uphold the recommendation from Police Chief Darryl Forté to terminate Rodgers for violating department policy against deceit. Rodgers was suspended in November.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City student accompanied Rodgers for a ride-along on Sept. 4, 2014. She was fulfilling a journalism class assignment that required her to write about her experience.
The student later told police officials that Rodgers made several inappropriate comments that made her feel uncomfortable. Among the comments, according to police termination documents, Rodgers asked if she had a boyfriend and whether she had been unfaithful to him.
He also asked what she later called an inappropriate question about a part of her body, the police document stated.
The internal affairs unit launched an investigation after a complaint was filed with the Office of Community Complaints.
In June 2015, Rodgers submitted to polygraph examination and denied asking the question about the body part. However, the polygraph examiner felt Rodgers was deceitful when he responded to questions about the incident.
Officers found to be deceitful are to be terminated, according to police department policy.
Rodgers described Friday how the student accompanied him to transport a man to the jail at Police Headquarters. Before entering the jail, Rodgers said he suggested that she adjust her shirt so that it was not too revealing.
Rodgers denied that he meant anything sexual or inappropriate.
He also told police board members that he had received several written and verbal accolades in his career from male and female supervisors, including a congratulatory letter from Forté.
Rodgers said that during the ride-along, he and the student talked about his girlfriend, who was then a police dispatcher.
The student did not convey to Rodgers that his comments were inappropriate or that she felt uncomfortable being with him, Rodgers told the police board.