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Officer’s Discipline For Text Message Upheld

On April 27, 2017, Cleveland Police Officer Sean Gorman received a call to go to a Cleveland strip club. He texted Officer Aaron Petitt to ask for help. The following exchange of messages ensued: “Gorman: Stop down to hustler apparently there are some middle eastern types giving people a hard time we are in route.Petitt: Packing up. Be there soon.Gorman: Take your time.Gorman: Sorry for bothering you SirPetitt: Never…

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Discipline Outside Of Statutory Time Frames Is ‘An Absolute Nullity’

Kevin Pozzo was a police officer with the New Orleans Police Department. On December 11, 2015, Pozzo and his then-fiancé, Melanie Wilson, who shared a residence, were drinking alcoholic beverages at home, and continued to drink afterward at an acquaintance’s party. Pozzo became upset when he observed Wilson talking with other men. After Pozzo confronted one of the men, Pozzo and Wilson were asked to leave the party. They…

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Failure To Follow Through On Alcohol Treatment Legitimate Basis For Discipline

While working as an Omaha Police Department (OPD) officer, Jason Christensen sought leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to get treatment for his alcoholism. He was granted FMLA leave in April 2015, until he exhausted his leave on or about July 18, 2015. Christensen sought voluntary inpatient alcohol treatment at Valley Hope of Omaha, an addiction treatment center, from April 26, 2015, through May 17, 2015….

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Permanent Inability To Return To Work Is Fatal

Isaiah Cardinale was an officer with the police department in Nutley Township, New Jersey. In December 2013, Cardinale submitted to a random drug test. Two days later, Cardinale admitted to using cocaine. The Department immediately suspended him pending the results of the test, and Cardinale successfully completed drug and alcohol treatment in Florida. In February 2014, the toxicology report demonstrated that he had tested positive for cocaine. The Department…

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Discharge Not Excessive For Off-Duty, Alcohol-Influenced Shots Fired At Another Deputy

Judith Diaz was a deputy sheriff with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. On October 13, 2011, Diaz went out for drinks with a friend and fellow deputy, Stephanie Hile. The two were joined by a third deputy, Adrienne Myers. The three had drinks at two different locations until closing time. All three left in Hile’s car. According to Diaz, Myers was driving. Myers said that Hile was driving;…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Opinion Reinstating Officer Who Installed Hidden Cameras

Officer Daniel Wagner works for the Aurora, Illinois Police Department. Wagner and his wife Lisa were divorced in July 2016. Wagner and Lisa have two children: a six-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son. During the divorce proceedings, Wagner lived in the marital home in Sugar Grove. Afterward, Lisa retained the property and Wagner moved out. However, Lisa permitted Wagner to have access to the home, to help with maintenance,…

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Anti-Union Animus, Not Profanity, True Basis For Firing

Teamsters Local 261 represents the corrections officers working for Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. Before being represented by Local 261, the bargaining unit was represented by the Laborers Union, which disclaimed interest in the bargaining unit on January 19, 2017, following expiration of the collective bargaining agreement on December 31, 2016. Corrections officer Kevin Boston was instrumental in the bargaining unit affiliating with Local 261 and served on Local 261’s bargaining…

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Officer Cannot Go Directly To Court, Must Exhaust Internal Appeals

In January 18, 2012, a fellow police officer informed the Bridgeton Police Department in New Jersey that Officer Robert Smith would be arriving at the police station to sell him anabolic steroids. When Smith arrived, the Department arrested him and charged him with several indictable crimes involving the possession and distribution of a controlled dangerous substance. When the City notified Smith that it intended to terminate him, Smith and…

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Hearsay Alone Cannot Justify Disciplinary Decision

Corey Corbo is a Union City, New Jersey police officer. An incident that resulted in Corbo’s termination began when police and emergency medical personnel responded to a residence in nearby Monroe Township. Monroe police officer Jamey DiGrazio later testified that medical personnel, who were upstairs in the residence performing CPR on an unconscious and intubated Corbo, told him that Corbo likely overdosed. DiGrazio went downstairs and engaged Corbo’s then-girlfriend,…

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Fire Captain Loses Beach Volleyball Case

Andre DeCohen, who is African-American, is a fire captain employed by Los Angeles County. On February 25, 2012, DeCohen was working an overtime shift at a different station. Tom Brady was another captain working the same shift. In the Department, firefighters, including captains, are required to participate in physical training for at least one hour per day. When DeCohen arrived at Fire Station 110 for his overtime shift, Brady…

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Revocation Of Corrections Certificate Not Automatic For Conviction For Lying

Shawn King was a corrections officer with the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC). In 2009 or 2010, King’s brother and sister-in-law gave him their dog, Sophie. They told King that they would take Sophie back at any time if King could no longer care for her. In 2013, King took Sophie to the Payette City Police Department in Idaho, where King lived, and told a police officer that he…

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Not Every Dismissal Of A Police Officer Is Punitive

Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights provides that if “an investigation or interrogation of a law enforcement officer results in a recommendation of an action that is considered punitive, the law enforcement officer is entitled to a hearing on the issues by a hearing board before the law enforcement agency takes that action.” The question of what amounts to “punitive” action triggering the Bill of Rights was the…

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Chicago Police Department Ordered To Bargain Over Disciplinary Matrix

Lodge 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police represents officers working for the Chicago Police Department. The City investigates serious disciplinary charges through what is called a “complaint register” process. Under the process, the City’s Independent Police Review Authority reviews allegations of misconduct made against members of the Department by members of the public. The Authority retains investigative authority over some categories of alleged misconduct, but transfers investigation of…

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‘Last Chance’ Agreements Under Civil Service Rules

In some environments, there are some different disciplinary rules that apply to “last chance” agreements. Typically, last chance agreements are used where an employee has engaged in serious misconduct, is willing to take affirmative steps to remedy the underlying source of the misconduct, and will agree to a sanction less than termination. A feature of such agreements is that in exchange for the employer’s agreement not to terminate the…

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Arbitrator’s ‘Chokehold’ Opinion Upheld

As the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts charmingly started off a recent opinion: In Boston on St. Patrick’s Day in 2009, three friends, Michael O’Brien, Thomas Cincotti and Eric Leverone, “having consumed some alcohol during the daytime celebrations, proceeded to a Faneuil Hall bar where O’Brien received free drinks by virtue of knowing the staff and owners.” Because Leverone had recently returned from active military duty, patrons purchased him…

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No Due Process Requirement For Reprimands

Deborah Upchurch is a supervisor with the City of Orange Township, New Jersey. After an internal affairs investigation, the City issued Upchurch a written reprimand for insubordination. Upchurch challenged the reprimand, alleging it was issued without due process. An appeals court in New Jersey dismissed Upchurch’s claims. The Court began by citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Cleveland Bd. Of Education v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532 (1985) for the…

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Bill Of Rights Requires Administrative Appeal After Final Disciplinary Decision Made

On or about March 1, 2008, a citizen with whom Paulo Morgado interacted filed a complaint against him with the Office of Citizen Complaints of the San Francisco Police Department (OCC). Pursuant to its powers granted by the City Charter, the OCC investigated the alleged misconduct and shared its findings and disciplinary recommendations with the Police Chief. After further investigation by the Department’s internal affairs division, the Chief filed…

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Inaccurate Report About Retired Trooper Results In Suspensions

William Leeman and Christopher Pagliuca are police officers employed by the Haverhill, Massachusetts Police Department. On March 30, 2012, Pagliuca was one of four police officers who responded to a reported DWI. The driver of the vehicle was Charles Noyes. The investigation revealed that Noyes had knocked down a utility pole in West Newbury and then continued to drive into Haverhill where he eventually stopped on the side of…

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Disciplinary Matrix Subordinate To ‘Just Cause” Provision In Contract

The City of Findlay, Ohio and the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. Sergeant David Hill has worked for the Findlay Police Department since 1999. On July 6, 2012, Hill helped to create a video of him using a taser against the son of a fellow officer. The video violated the Department’s social media policy. As a result, the Department issued Hll a written…

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Non-Member Has No Right To Challenge Suspension Through Arbitration Under Fire Union’s Contract

Richard Robertson is an Orange County, Florida fire lieutenant. Taking advantage of Florida’s “right to work” laws, Robertson chose not to be a member of the Orange County Professional Fire Fighters, Local 2057 of the IAFF, the labor organization representing the County’s rank-and-file firefighters. On April 12, 2016, the County terminated Robertson, having found that he violated the Department’s rules on performance of duty and truthfulness. Robertson filed a…

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Captain Entitled To See Notes Taken In Disciplinary Investigation

In June 2015, the Town of Kernersville, North Carolina terminated Fire Captain Kevin Bray, who had served the Fire Department for more than 17 years. Bray’s termination stemmed from a meeting he had with Town Manager Curtis Swisher and the Town’s human resources director to discuss some of Bray’s concerns about the Fire Department. In response to Bray’s concerns, Swisher interviewed other employees and took notes during the interviews….

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Q&A

From Florida Question: I’ve often heard from my union’s legal defense plan that we cannot go to arbitration for a written reprimand because the grievant has no “property loss” and that the arbitrator can’t rescind the written reprimand. Often our members feel like this is an excuse by the legal defense plan because the LDP doesn’t want to spend the money on the arbitration. While a written reprimand doesn’t…

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Deputies Terminated For ‘Spouse-Swapping’

Brandon Coker and Michael Golden were sheriff’s deputies in Bossier Parish, Louisiana. When Chief Deputy Sheriff Owens learned in late October 2014 that Coker and Golden had each taken up residence in the other’s house, exchanging spouses without having divorced their current wives, they were placed on administrative leave for violating the Sheriff’s Code of Conduct. The Code includes the obligation to: “Conduct yourselves at all times in such…

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Court Reverses Termination Of Corrections Officer Who Punched Inmate In Stomach

Steven Harris is a correctional officer at Maury Correctional Institution, a North Carolina state prison. Harris was working the night shift on February 5, 2015, and was assigned to the “Gray Unit,” which housed the prison’s segregation cell block. Inmate Christopher Walls placed his feces into a plastic bag and placed the bag into the toilet, which caused water to leak onto the floor. Walls then poured the feces…

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Complaint About Fire Chief’s Nazi Behavior Given Mixed Protection

James Dumas is a firefighter at St. Tammany Parish Fire District No. 3 in Louisiana, and is the vice-president of the firefighters’ union. In May 2016, the Union submitted a letter to the District’s Civil Service Board expressing a “vote of no confidence” in Fire Chief Patrick Sicard. The letter alleged that Sicard violated several provisions of civil service law, including failing to perform the duties of his position…

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