WRAL Investigates

Head of Raleigh police interest group on administrative duty

Posted August 10, 2011 4:37 p.m. EDT
Updated August 11, 2011 11:00 p.m. EDT

— A Raleigh police officer who is also the president of local police interest group has been placed on administrative duty stemming from an internal police department probe of an officer who was fired in June.

Another police officer has been placed on administrative leave.

Chip Roth, a spokesman for Teamsters Local 39, which runs the Raleigh Police Protective Association, said Wednesday that the status changes of Sgt. Eric DeSimone and Senior Officer Matt Cooper revolve around “policy violations” related to the investigation of Rick Armstrong. Armstrong, the RPPA's former president, was fired in June after accusations involving police officers having sex with a prostitute.

DeSimone, RPPA's current president, is on administrative duty, and Cooper, a member of the association, is on administrative leave, Roth said.

Neither officer could be reached Wednesday, but Roth said they do not have anything to say. He also said that they do not have anything to do with the investigation involving Armstrong and that the violations alleged against them have nothing to do with prostitutes.

Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan said in a statement that state law prohibits him from discussing personnel matters, but he did respond to questions about the police department's relationship with the RPPA.

"The Raleigh Police Department respects and supports the rights of its employees to affiliate with the RPPA and/or other organizations and to lawfully participate as they desire," Dolan said. "No employee has been or will be singled out due to his or her participation with such organizations."

DeSimone, with the Raleigh police's field operations division, has been with the department since March 1997. Cooper, who is assigned to the special operations division, was hired in June 2000.

The investigation involving Armstrong and several other officers from Raleigh's Southeast District Substation was the result of a police officer's complaint in 2009.

Dolan has not addressed the specific allegations but has said the department's internal affairs unit was conducting a comprehensive investigation involving improper conduct and that "administrative violations may have occurred and that they stemmed from voluntary interactions between a small number of officers and non-departmental individuals."

Armstrong and another officer were subsequently fired, and a third officer resigned. Armstrong has adamantly denied the allegations and is fighting to get back his job.

"The charges against me, I'm innocent of," Armstrong said in an interview last month. "The allegations of prostitutes and sex have nothing to do with the charges that are against me."

Approximately 550 Raleigh police officers, or more than two-thirds of the Raleigh Police Department, are members of the RPPA.