A Los Angeles police officer, who was the subject of an intense search in December when he disappeared for five days, has been suspended from duty as punishment, his commanding officer said Wednesday.
Sgt. Christopher Vasquez, 41, told supervisors after he safely returned home that he had hitchhiked to Northern California to think over personal problems. A 20-year veteran assigned to North Hollywood, Vasquez returned to work after his Dec. 10 disappearance, which has been under review by the department. He was recently suspended without pay for an undisclosed number of days, Capt. Bruce Mitchell said.
Mitchell acknowledged that the suspension was related to Vasquez’s disappearance but declined to discuss it in further detail. He added, however, that “people are expected to come to work and, when they don’t, they are usually disciplined.”
“He’s an outstanding employee in every other way,” Mitchell said.
Vasquez also declined to discuss the suspension, which was approved by Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, except to say, “I’m in agreement with what the chief wants to do and I’ll abide by his decisions.”
A force of more than 250 people, many of them off-duty police officers, combed 45 square miles of Ventura County in a futile search for Vasquez, who failed to report for his 3:30 p.m. shift as an assistant watch commander despite a reputation for being consistent and reliable. Officers sent to his Moorpark townhouse found his two cars, a wallet and police identification but no sign of Vasquez, who had recently separated from his wife.