Pizza prank Sussex Police sergeant guilty of gross misconduct
A sergeant who dangled a slice of pepperoni pizza over a Jewish officer's kosher pizza, causing a piece of pork to fall off and land on hers has been found guilty of gross misconduct.
Sussex Police Sgt Gary Jacobs accepted the prank in March happened but denied the allegation of gross misconduct.
The unnamed PC is said to have been left feeling "as if she was being mocked for her faith".
Sgt Jacobs will keep his job and will receive a final written warning.
The panel heard the officer, referred to as PC A, was sitting at a table in a police station with Sgt Jacobs on 8 March eating pizza ordered for the team.
She had ordered pizza compliant with her dietary requirements but, as everyone was finishing, the leftover pizza was collected into the same box.
Another officer said PC A's food should not be put in the same box to avoid contamination.
Sgt Jacobs, based in Crawley, then picked up a piece of pepperoni pizza and dangled it over her food.
A piece of pepperoni fell off and landed on her pizza, so she could not finish her meal.
The panel heard other officers around the table immediately felt uncomfortable while PC A was said to have been left feeling "embarrassed" and "isolated".
Amy Clarke, representing Sussex Police, said: "On any reading of this incident the conduct was utterly unacceptable and is much more serious than what might appear at first to be suggested by Sgt Jacobs as a misguided attempt at humour.
"Sgt Jacobs also knew she was Jewish and knew she maintained a kosher diet. Any modicum of common sense means you shouldn't dangle pork over her food."
She said it was not a "split second stupid decision" as he had already been told about not contaminating the food.
Michael Salter, the chair of the panel, told Sgt Jacobs: "This was an intentional act, it was deliberate, directed towards an individual and from an officer in a position of trust and responsibility."
He said Sgt Jacobs's actions were "crass, insensitive and quite frankly stupid".