MESA, AZ — A Mesa police officer under investigation after being accused of sexual misconduct has been approved to retire.
Officer Jeffrey Neese had his retirement approved by the city's public employee pension board at its meeting on December 19.
Neese has been accused of sexually harassing a half-dozen women on the police force in incidents since 2014.
Last July, six female police officers and the wife of a male officer filed a $1 million claim against the city in relation to the harassment allegations. They say city administrators and department leaders failed to discipline Neese appropriately after he was found to have repeatedly violated the city's policy against workplace harassment.
As a result of those findings, Neese had been removed from the Mesa SWAT unit and demoted from sergeant to patrol officer.
Neese was assigned to his home while the department investigated the allegations made by the seven women. A police department spokesperson said Thursday the investigation was still in progress and would continue to completion.
In a statement, David Lunn, who is a lawyer representing the women, said Neese's retirement doesn't fix problems within the department.
"While we find some comfort knowing that Sergeant Neese will no longer be in a position to harass Mesa Police Officers, his retirement doesn't change the systemic issues within the Mesa Police Department or the City of Mesa," Lunn said. "By slow-playing the investigation, the City created a blue-print for other offenders of how to outlast the process so they can receive their full pensions before potentially seeking other employment where they can continue their negative behaviors. "