Despite protests by Quantico Mayor T. A. (Phil) Giannopoulos, the Town Council has reinstated Quantico's highest-ranking police officer after a six-week suspension.

Sgt. Leo Rodriguez returned to duty last Friday, two days after he pleaded guilty to assault and battery charges in the Prince William County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. Rodriguez was placed on one year's probation and ordered to participate in an alcoholic rehabilitation program.

A 15-year-old Woodbridge youth, Anthony Edwards, accused Rodriguez of assaulting him April 16 outside a Quantico restaurant. Rodriguez, who was off-duty at the time, handcuffed Edwards and took him to the town police station. Edwards was never charged and was later released.

After the incident, the Town Council suspended Rodriguez for 10 days and reinstated him April 27. But Giannopoulos, using his emergency powers as mayor, suspended Rodriguez again on May 3, pending the outcome of his appearance on assault and battery charges.

"The other two town police officers have threatened to resign over this. I don't believe there is another jurisdiction in the country where a police officer would be blindly excused after he pleaded guilty to assault and battery," Giannopoulos said.

The Town Council called a special meeting last Friday to reinstate Rodriguez. If he had not been allowed to return to work by June 30, the newly elected council could have chosen not to reappoint him on July 1, Giannopoulos said.

"I wanted to extend his suspension so that he would never return to work," Giannopoulos said. "But the other council members felt strongly that we needed the help because we only have a three-man force."

Rodriguez could not be reached for comment.

Beatrice Edwards, the mother of the youth who brought charges against Rodriguez, said she was "upset" by Rodriguez's reinstatement.

"This man admitted he was guilty," Edwards said, "and yet they are going to put a gun in his hand and put him back on the streets."