Arbitrator Upholds Transfer Of Canine Officer

The collective bargaining agreement between the Town of Groton, Connecticut and Council 15 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees has a clause that allows canine officers to remain in assignments for at least three years absent “performance reasons.” When the Town removed a canine officer from his position, Council 15 challenged the decision in arbitration.

An arbitrator upheld the Town’s decision. In particular, the Arbitrator rejected Council 15’s argument that the “performance reasons” phrase in the contract was the equivalent of “just cause.” Instead, the Arbitrator concluded that the “assignment” language took precedence over the just-cause provision in the contract.

In addition, the Arbitrator concluded that the employer had shown an adequate basis for the removal of the canine officer. Not only had the officer’s dog bitten his daughter’s 11-year-old friend, but there had been other instances where the officer had failed to maintain control of the dog. In the end, the Arbitrator concluded that the officer demonstrated “an intentional and disturbing willingness to use his canine for improper purposes.”

Town of Groton, Connecticut, LAIG 6924 (Celetano, 2011).