The Iowa Court of Appeals says a Dubuque police officer should be suspended — not fired after getting drunk and making an inappropriate phone call. The court records show Dubuque police officer Kurt Rosenthal went out in 2007 with fellow officers and got drunk.
Rosenthal was discussing a female officer on force with his buddies and then decided to call her. He called her and left a sexually explicit message for her. Rosenthal later left and drove around town while still drunk. The Dubuque police chief decided to fire Rosenthal for his actions.
Rosenthal had been a D.A.R.E. officer teaching elementary kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and had a spotless record prior to his night of drinking. Rosenthal appealed his case to the Civil Service Commission which overturned the firing, saying Rosenthal should be suspended for 30 days without pay. The city appealed the commission ruling and the district court upheld the Civil Service ruling.
The Iowa Court of Appeals says they agree that Rosenthal’s drunken actions were "egregious," but said they had to look at his prior record, which included letters of commendation from his superiors and notes of appreciation from members of the public. The Appeals Court also noted that Rosenthal called and apologized to the female officer and enrolled and completed an alcohol rehabilitation program.
The Appeals Court says when they take into account all these factors, they agree officer Rosenthal should be suspended, but not lose his job. Justice Rosemary Sackett disagreed with the majority ruling, saying Rosenthal’s actions were enough to justify his firing.