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No ‘Error Too Obvious To Be Unintentional’ On The Money Train

Tiffany Washington, an African American woman, served as a sergeant in the Metro Transit Police Department from 2008 to 2016. The Department is a unit of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which operates trains and buses in and around the District of Columbia. Washington worked at WMATA’s Revenue Collection Facility in Alexandria, Virginia, where she supervised lower-ranking officers aboard the money train, which transports cash fares from…

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Demotion, Not Termination, Usually The Appropriate Punishment For Supervisory Failures

Shaun Sundahl worked for the Calexico, California Police Department as a sergeant. The City terminated Sundahl for three incidents: (1) Sundahl’s order that a subordinate officer use a taser to control a burglary suspect who was attempting to escape into Mexico by wading through a polluted river; (2) Sundahl’s handling of a high-tension confrontation with several citizens after police responded to a domestic violence call; and (3) Sundahl’s failure…

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Sergeant’s Reassignment Can Amount To Demotion

In 2008, when the City of Charlotte, North Carolina Metropolitan Police Department selected Tammy Hatley and 38 other sergeants for the position “Response Area Commander,” (RAC) it held a ceremony which it called a “promotion ceremony.” At the ceremony, all 39 sergeants were presented by the Department with insignia indicating that they had been promoted to the rank of staff sergeant, which is another stripe for a non-commissioned officer….

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Mass Demotion of Fire Officers Does Not Violate Due Process

In the summer of 2010, Lawrence Township, Indiana was in serious discussions with the City of Indianapolis regarding the Lawrence Township Fire Department merging with the Indianapolis Fire Department. Before any merger could take place, however, the Township had to make certain adjustments to the ranks of its officers. Indianapolis was willing to accept only 15 officers (five captains and ten lieutenants), and would not accept any battalion chiefs….

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Commanders Can Be Demoted Without Just Cause

Robin Hoey joined Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department in 1985. Over the next nineteen years, he was progressively promoted to the positions of lieutenant, captain, inspector, and, in 2004, to commander of the Department’s Sixth District. On April 19, 2007, newly-appointed Chief of Police Cathy Lanier informed Hoey that she was returning him to the rank of captain and reassigning him to other duties. At no point has Chief…

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Polygraph Not Admissible In Wrongful Discharge Lawsuit Filed In Federal Court

Dan Dixon was employed as a lieutenant by the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Police Department. In June 2009, at the conclusion of an internal department investigation into allegations that Dixon had falsified timekeeping records and manipulated a subordinate officer’s work schedule, the Police Chief recommended that Dixon’s employment be terminated by the City. On June 24, 2009, following a pre-termination hearing, the City’s Personnel Officer determined that in lieu of…

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Court Upholds Fire Captain’s Demotion For Affair With Subordinate

Randolph Starling was a captain with the Palm Beach County, Florida Fire Rescue Department. In May 2005, he arranged to have Carolyn Smith, another firefighter, transferred to his fire station as his subordinate. Sometime during the next few months, Smith and Starling – then married but separated from his wife – began an intimate relationship. Starling’s wife filed for divorce in July, and he moved into Smith’s house in…

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Due Process Not Needed Prior To Reorganization Which Resulted In Lieutenant’s Reduction To Sergeant

William Carlberg was a lieutenant with the New Hampshire Bureau of Highway Patrol and Enforcement. In 2007, Carlberg was deployed to active duty by the United States National Guard. While he was deployed, the Department reorganized, moving the Highway Patrol from the Division of Motor Vehicles into the Division of State Police. A collective bargaining agreement with terms relating to departmental reorganization was in effect at the time. The…

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Trooper’s Depression Results From Failure To Do Job, Not Disciplinary Investigation

James Thomas began working as a trooper for the Maryland State Police (MSP) in 1971. After he suffered a series of panic attacks while on the road from 1978 to 1980, he was transferred to MSP’s Automotive Safety Enforcement Division, after which the panic attacks ceased. In 2000, MSP adopted new procedures for the auditing of vehicle inspection stations. Though Thomas was aware of the new procedures, he failed…

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