A former Coral Gables cop will rejoin the force after he resigned from the police department in an unsuccessful bid for the City Commission.
Commissioners voted to allow Randy Hoff, a nearly 30-year veteran, to rescind his resignation and return to his position as a sergeant at Tuesday’s meeting. Hoff and the city’s police union had filed a grievance as he sought to get his job back, while City Attorney Craig Leen and other administrators had argued that his decision could not be reversed unless the City Commission intervened.
The agreement was approved with a 3-1 vote. Vice Mayor Patricia Keon voted no, and Commissioner Michael Mena, who beat Hoff and won the Group 5 seat in April, recused himself from the discussion.
The agreement states that Police Chief Ed Hudak will determine Hoff’s assignment. He will not receive back pay for the roughly three months when he was on leave. Beyond that, his contract will remain the same and the police union will withdraw the grievance against the city.
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The issue centered on Hoff resigning to run for the Group 5 seat in April and the city’s opinion that his decision was final.
In a Feb. 10 letter to Hudak, he described his action as a “retirement/resignation” and said it was effective April 14, three days after the city’s election. About six days later, he sent another message to Hudak in which he requested an extended leave of absence through election day, and said that if he was unsuccessful he would return as a police officer on April 12.
City Attorney Craig Leen, in a Feb. 24 email, described his decision as “irrevocable” and argued that despite his wishes to return as an officer if he lost, he could not be reinstated.
“As indicated, you will be on a leave of absence until April 14 2017, upon which date your irrevocable resignation/retirement will occur automatically,” Leen wrote in an email to Hoff.
Commissioner Vince Lago, who sponsored the discussion of the settlement, said that Hoff’s history of service was more important than holding him to the resignation.
“I’m looking at an individual where the only mistake he made was signing an irrevocable resignation,” Lago said. “Why not have a veteran presence when our police force is getting younger?”
In voting against the agreement, Keon said that Hoff knew the full implications of his decision to resign.
“I truly understand that it’s not easy to not win an election. I don’t think we should change the rules retroactively,” Keon said.
Before resigning, Hoff had served as vice president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police and was also a member of the city’s retirement board.
“I’m very appreciative of the City Commission for supporting me. I’ve been serving the city for almost 30 years and I look forward to continuing my service,” Hoff said.