Officer had been disciplined in the past

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By The Staff

SHEPHERDSVILLE - Whether or not criminal charges were filed, Shepherdsville police chief Doug Puckett felt that officer Brent Dawson was in violation of the agency’s standard operating procedures.

And Puckett revealed that Dawson’s involvement in an alleged gambling operation in northern Bullitt County was not the first time the veteran officer had been disciplined.

Those revelations were part of the second evening of testimony in Dawson’s appeal of a 30-day suspension before the Shepherdsville Civil Service Commission.

The hearing will resume on Dec. 8. Dawson is seeking to appeal the suspension.

Puckett told the three-member panel that the various violations cited in his recommendation for disciplinary action resulted from Dawson’s duties as a police officer, not necessarily his involvement in the poker game in August.

The raid and subsequent charges brought by the Hillview Police Department put the Shepherdsville agency in unfavorable light in the community, said Puckett.

When Dawson was cited for a violation in Bullitt District Court for loitering, Puckett said it hurt the department, which is placed at higher standards in the eyes of the community.

Puckett said his years of experience as an investigator in Louisville Metro Police caused him to believe that illegal gambling was being conducted. There were six poker tables, a pair of electronic slot machines, no sign of a legitimate business, lots of poker chips and cards and refreshments led him to believe it was more than a simple game of cards.

With the games being limited to an invitation-only type setting, Puckett said it is hard to infiltrate such operations. Normally, it takes a disgruntled player to help police get involved.

In the case of the Hillview raid, a burglar alarm sounded a couple of days earlier and police responded. While there, they saw the poker tables and machines. Two days later, they returned with search warrants.

Dawson was cited for ethical violations, as well as associating with the criminal element, conduct unbecoming of an officer and having an unsecured weapon in his vehicle.

During an interview with Dawson by Det. Jeremy Meyer, Puckett said the officer reported being at gaming situations previously and that the public was not invited to the games.

Puckett said ledger sheets had the name Brent listed and there were lists of expenses of $3,600 and he doubted that the three men who were in charge would split that debt without getting some proceeds from the games.

The weapons charge stemmed from Dawson not wearing his Glock handgun, which was found in a back pack in the back of the vehicle.

Under department procedures, Puckett said officers are to have their guns in their possession at all times they are inside the county.

And due to prior violations of the standard operating procedures, Puckett told attorney Mary Sharp that he imposed “progressive discipline.”

In April 2002, Dawson was given a three-day suspension for showing a tattoo on his buttock to two girls at a Shell station.

And on Oct. 8, 2008,  he was given a 10-day suspension and demoted for having an unsecured weapon, conduct unbecoming an officer and untruthfulness. During that incident, Puckett said Dawson had his weapon and duty belt at his girlfriend’s home. He left the residence without the duty belt. The girlfriend discharged the gun and then threw the duty belt onto the roof.

“He has a duty to keep up  with his equipment,” said Puckett.

With 17 years of experience in law enforcement, Puckett said Dawson should know better than to get involved with a gambling situation and he should understand the department’s standard operating procedures.

Dawson has served the 30-day unpaid suspension and has returned to work.

Attorney Jim Winchell concluded the testimony for the city. Dawson’s side will begin testimony on Dec. 8 at 5:30 p.m. The public is invited.