Suspended not same as Administrative Leave

Published 1:11 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Last week, the community and surrounding areas were a buzz when The Examiner, a non-paid weekly publication that boasts of its investigative prowess, reported on the cover of its latest edition that Port Arthur Police Office Rickey Antoine was suspended from duty due to allegations of ticket fixing.

First off, Officer Antoine was not suspended he was placed on paid administrative leave.

For those that may not know the difference, paid administrative leave is what every law enforcement officer is placed on when an accusation requiring an investigation is required. It does not imply guilt. In fact, it does quite the opposite. It is a temporary leave of absence with pay and benefits intact. In some agencies, individuals placed on this type of leave still go to the office as they are still paid. They just aren’t on the streets.

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However, being “suspended” is commonly used as a disciplinary action and can imply guilt and wrongdoing. Suspension is also considered the same as any other disciplinary measure such as demotion, salary reduction or termination. None of these things have taken place with Officer Antoine.

So, for The Examiner to place the word “Suspended” on its cover was grossly inaccurate. It was not an opinion of an individual at the publication. It was not an editorial supporting publication views of an issue. Plain and simple, it was an announcement of guilt on the front page for all to see, minus the proof.

Now, in the story itself that ran on pages four and five, the reporter accurately used the proper wording, stating, “leave” and not “suspended.” But the damage was already done by the bold, inaccurate headline on the cover just above his picture.

As this is an ongoing investigation, we may not know any time soon whether the accusations reported were factual or false. What I do know is, when the accuser who reported this to The Examiner also came to The Port Arthur News to report the same, he was asked by The Port Arthur News editorial staff to produce corroboration before we take the next step. Although touting there were many who could do so, he was unable to produce any evidence, nor would he go on record with his statement. So we did not take this further.

Truth be known, and I’m sure it is, Officer Antoine has made his share of enemies by aggressively doing his job. Lead-foot drivers across the county know where his beat is and where not to drive fast. He has ticketed many wrongdoers over the years, some multiple times. And that tends to cause frustration for some.

Officer Antoine does his job and he does it well. And to many, these accusations of corruption just don’t seem to fit the person we know as “The Ticket Machine.” I, as well as many others, hope they are not. But if they are, then punishment should fit the crime. However, if it comes out that the allegations are false, The Examiner needs to do a cover piece stating that as well. However, I doubt they will do that.