Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Mesa police union president detained in alcohol incident
Mesa Police Association President Sgt. Fabian Cota is the subject of an investigation after being detained early Saturday by San Diego police on a charge of disorderly conduct involving alcohol.
Cota, a 26-year police veteran, was not arrested but was "detained by the San Diego Police Department and was taken to detox and released from there," said Detective Gary Hassen, a San Diego police spokesman.
Mesa police officials learned of the incident Saturday morning, said Sgt. Ed Wessing, a Mesa police spokesman. By Monday, Cota was "assigned to an administrative function, while we pursue an internal investigation."
Initially, Mesa police officials were told Cota was arrested, but later learned he was detained, processed and held in detox. California law allows people to be held for at least four hours and released without charges after sobering up.
Cota makes $88,420 per year as a sergeant and $12,000 per year as union president. Cota also serves as vice president of the Arizona Police Association and did not return messages seeking comment.
Mesa police's investigation will determine whether Cota violated any department code-of-conduct policies.
Kevin Christopher, a city spokesman, said the City Manager's Office is allowing the Police Department to handle an investigation into the matter.
It's unclear how the incident will affect his position as leader of Mesa's police union. MPA officials were not immediately available for comment.
Cota's brush with the law comes after he completed a three-day suspension without pay and as he remains on one-year probation. The discipline is tied to Cota not properly reporting how an employee list was used during the department's February 2010 election between the MPA and rival Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9.
That investigation centered on how the MPA's parent organization, the Arizona Police Association, received a list of police officer names, which were used to e-mail an election flier. The FOP lodged a complaint, stating the MPA violated election rules barring the use of city resources for the election.
City officials told investigators Cota changed his story when questioned about how the APA received the list. Cota denied their allegations and said his former girlfriend, Stacey Dillon, who handles the MPA's media relations, forwarded the contact info to the APA.
The City Council went on to nullify the February 2010 election results and ordered a new election be held last October.
MPA won that contest and Cota is in the process of negotiating a memorandum of understanding, which will outline how the organization will communicate with the city on future policy issues.