Letter confirms reasons behind Raleigh police officer's firing
Posted November 14, 2011
Updated December 15, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — A letter that appears to be from Raleigh's police chief confirms a former sergeant's claims that he was fired as part of a sexual misconduct investigation – an investigation in which the officer says the findings are untrue.
Rick Armstrong, a 14-year veteran of the Raleigh Police Department, was fired in June amid an internal investigation into allegations that he and other police officers were having sex with prostitutes.
Armstrong says he was terminated after the police department's Internal Affairs Unit found that he allegedly had sex with a woman who lived in a neighborhood that he patrolled.
He has repeatedly denied the claims and is appealing to the city's Civil Service Commission to get his job back. He is also suing the city for wrongful termination.
It's unclear where the Aug. 18 letter to Armstrong signed by Police Chief Harry Dolan, came from. WRAL News received it in the mail Monday from an anonymous source. Armstrong said he did not send it. The police department did not have a comment when asked about it Monday.
The department generally has also declined to comment on Armstrong's termination or the internal investigation, citing state law that prevents them from talking about personnel issues.
In the letter, Dolan addressed several issues stemming from an initial appeals hearing for Armstrong, then added his own findings based on the Internal Affairs report and statements Armstrong made during the hearing – most of which, according to Dolan, were grounds for termination.
"He, all of a sudden, brings things out that I had no idea (were) even part of the investigation and added additional charges that were completely false," Armstrong said. "I went in there defending the charges that were against me and found myself attempting to defend things completely different."
Dolan wrote that Armstrong improperly spoke about the internal investigation to a witness and to other officers – something he was specifically told not to do.
Dolan also accused him of repeatedly asking an informant for sex and exposing himself to her while in uniform.
"(It) is absolutely untrue," Armstrong said. "Internal Affairs actually did the investigation and found that to be not true, and the chief comes back and finds that to be sustained."
The chief goes on in the letter to say, "The facts of the investigation are very troubling, and I have not come to this decision lightly."
"I was insulted," Armstrong said. "Here I have an absolute impeccable record over the 14 years of service I've done for the police department, and for him to add additional charges on and to make comments like that, I think, were uncalled for."
Armstrong is the former head of the Raleigh Police Protective Association, a professional association that represents the interests of police officers.
He said he believes Dolan doesn't like the RPPA because it has disagreed with him in the past about how officers are promoted and their salary grades.
"Clearly there is some effort to illegally smear the former union president, Rick Armstrong," RPPA spokesman Rob Black said. "The RPPA is very concerned about that."
Armstrong and Black both said they believe the letter had to come from someone in Dolan's office. Black said that, if that were the case, it would be in violation of state law since Armstrong's case hasn't been resolved.
"The RPPA calls on the chief to open an investigation as to who in his office is breaking the law," Black said.