Police Chief Loses Job For Conduct In Wake Of Officers’ Accident

Donald Perryman was the Police Chief of the Village of Saranac Lake, New York. When Perryman was fired for misconduct and incompetence, he challenged his termination on the grounds that there was no “substantial evidence” supporting the Village’s termination decision.

An appeals court found otherwise, and upheld Perryman’s termination. As the Court summarized the evidence, “the charges against Perryman stemmed from an incident when two Village police officers were involved in a car accident while on duty in an unmarked Village police car after they had consumed alcohol. The credible evidence demonstrated that Perryman was aware that the officers had been drinking before the accident and that he attempted to conceal this information from the investigating authorities. Perryman also engaged in misconduct by failing to conduct an internal investigation of the incident to address the conduct of the officers, who not only operated a Village vehicle while intoxicated, but failed to disclose this information in the reports they wrote regarding the accident.

“While Perryman’s testimony and that of other witnesses offered by him contradicted the testimony presented by the Village in some respects, the resolution of questions of credibility are solely within the province of a Hearing Officer, and this Court does not substitute its judgment for that of the Civil Service Board nor does it weigh the evidence presented at the hearing. Thus, the fact that Perryman presented an alternative explanation for the course of events is not a basis for disturbing the Board’s determination.”

Perryman v. Village of Saranac Lake, 881 N.Y.S.2d 693 (App. Div. 2009).

This article appears in the October 2009 issue