Ex-FW police sergeant defends leaving post at jail

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by CHRIS HAWES

WFAA

Posted on June 13, 2011 at 11:05 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 13 at 11:36 PM

NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE

FORT WORTH — Enjoying long restaurant lunches, working out, spending time at home — these are all things Fort Worth police sergeants are accused of doing when they were supposed to be working at the city jail.

On Monday, News 8 exclusively obtained a police interview with one of the accused men. His explanation? It's been going on for years.

Internal Affairs investigators say three sergeants sometimes arrived hours late, and at other times left hours early, all while continuing to write eight hours down on their time cards.

Sgt. John Ost did not deny it in an interview with Internal Affairs, saying: "...if you were doin' your whole eight hours in the jail for 40 hours, I mean, you're incarcerated just like the prisoners."

Chief Jeff Halstead ordered an investigation after getting an anonymous letter in November. The writer said "It just doesn’t seem right that they can get away with cheating on their time."

Ost's attorney, Terry Daffron Porter says, however, that what Ost and the other sergeants did has been allowed and accepted for years.

“It's my understanding that they were told that they could go work out while they were on duty;  that they could take their lunches while they were on duty;  in addition to working out and things of that nature,” Porter said.

“And I'll be honest,” said Ost in the recorded interview with Internal Affairs. “I tried to take advantage of it. I mean, I did want to get in better shape. I mean, I lost like 10 pounds when I started getting down at the jail. I was eating better."

Porter represents the three accused supervisors, including Ost. One was demoted, another allowed to resign, and the third, Ost, was fired.

Ost is appealing the decision, and anticipates a hearing later this year.

“I don't believe that it was fair at all, given his history, his 21 years with the Fort Worth P.D.,” Porter said.

A fourth sergeant was admonished after admitting to leaving work early on one occasion.

A Fort Worth Police Department spokesman said the agency has chosen a path of integrity, and will continue to hold officers to the highest standard.

Both the department and Ost say there was always a supervisor in the jail, along with detention officers. The Belknap jail location serves as a holding facility for individuals waiting to be transferred to Mansfield.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com

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