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COMMISSION UPHOLDS DECISION TO FIRE SERGEANT

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Salt Lake Police Chief Michael Chabries' decision to fire a prominent sergeant has been upheld by the city Civil Service Commission.

But Sgt. Michael Fierro vowed he will fight the decision in the state and federal courts, if necessary, saying serious constitutional issues are at stake."I don't have anything else to lose," Fierro told the Deseret News Saturday afternoon. "I'm going to fight as hard as I can."

After deliberating about two weeks, the commission released its unanimous decision Saturday afternoon, finding Fierro's "failure to follow the direct order of (Chabries) warrants termination."

A 14-year veteran with the police department, Fierro was fired Sept. 29 for disobeying an order to stay away from the wife of another officer.

Rumors of an affair between Fierro and Officer Dennis Nelson's wife in July led to an internal investigation, which prompted the department's captains to urge Chabries to demote Fierro.

But the sergeant - whose most recent assignment was leader of the gang unit - appealed to Chabries, who suspended Fierro for 25 days without pay and issued the order to cease contact with the officer's wife.

On Sept. 10, Fierro violated that order when the woman called him and insisted on seeing him.

That same night, Nelson went looking for the couple and became belligerent with other officers, at one point pulling his gun. The following day, police responded in force to Nelson's home on a domestic dispute.

Nelson and Fierro were suspended with pay Sept. 11. Nelson remained on that status Saturday.

During a two-day hearing before the commission, Fierro and his attorney argued that the action taken against Fierro was overly harsh, that the administrative inquiry into his off-duty conduct was an invasion of privacy and the order violated his freedom of association.

"The hypocrisy of it all really bothers me," Fierro said Saturday. "You have majors and captains who have done worse than I and still enjoy their position and career and livelihood. And that's something I've been deprived of."

Fierro - who was third on the list of sergeants to be promoted to lieutenant - is also pursuing an equal-opportunity complaint that has been filed with the Utah Industrial Commission contending the termination was unfair and may have been racially motivated.

Currently, there are no minorities in the department's command structure and only one - a Hispanic - is a sergeant.