Covington police Sgt. Stephen Short, who was suspended for his involvement in the controversial arrest of two officials at a high school football game last year and more recently was put on paid administrative leave for allegedly improperly accessing his boss’s phone records, has retired, Police Chief Tim Lentz said Tuesday.
Short filed his retirement papers shortly after having a “predisciplinary hearing” with Lentz on Monday morning, Lentz said.
Lentz asked Short to return to his office Tuesday morning, but Short instead went to City Hall and filed his papers to retire, Lentz said.
Lentz said he had intended to fire Short on Tuesday.
Short’s attorney, Michael Fawer, said Short suspected he was going to be fired and retired in order to save his pension. “That was a risk he couldn’t afford,” Fawer said.
Despite Short’s retirement, Fawer said he still believed Lentz had overstepped his bounds.
“In this instance, the chief had no right to hold a proceeding,” Fawer said of Monday’s hearing.
At the center of the issue are recordings of phone calls Short requested as part of his appeal in a separate disciplinary proceeding — the one on whether he acted appropriately in arresting two football officials during an October game in Covington.
In preparation for his appeal, Short asked for recordings of two phone calls Lentz made to the two officials and another call made by a detective working on the case.
All three calls were made from the Police Department, where all calls are logged and recorded.
Lentz alleged Short — formerly the department’s internal affairs officer — had violated department policy in accessing the phone logs and recordings.
Fawer, in a letter to Lentz, said the calls were public record. He also argued that since some of the recordings that Short requested were of calls by Lentz, then Lentz should have recused himself from that disciplinary proceeding.
Lentz provided recordings of the calls to The New Orleans Advocate and other news outlets in response to requests.
Short and Lentz had been at odds since Lentz took over the department’s top job in October, a few days after Short ignited a storm of controversy when he got involved in a heated verbal altercation with the two football officials over crowd control at a game between St. Paul’s School and Mandeville High School.
The altercation led to Short’s decision to arrest the two officials during the third quarter, delaying the game by nearly 30 minutes and sparking a threatened boycott of Covington games by the officials association.
Shortly after Lentz took the oath of office, he and Mayor Mike Cooper called a news conference at which they apologized to the officials involved and vowed that the arrests would not happen again.
Lentz said at the time that he thought Short’s temper had gotten the better of him.
On Dec. 30, Short was demoted from lieutenant to sergeant and suspended for two weeks.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.