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Unions Have ‘Great Discretion’ In Deciding Whether To Seek Arbitration

Jose F. Valencia sued the Santa Fe Police Officers Association for breach of duty of fair representation. Valencia requested that the Association challenge his termination for dishonesty in arbitration. The Association’s Board scheduled a meeting on February 16, 2010, to consider the request. Two Board members, the President and the former President, recused themselves from the February 16 proceedings as they were the subjects of allegations made by Valencia…

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Video Results In Firefighter Losing Workers’ Comp Benefits

Thomas Swiech sustained an established injury to his neck in 2007 in the course of his employment as a firefighter for the City of Lackawanna, New York. In 2008, he had cervical fusion surgery and retired, and in 2010 he had lumbar surgery. In 2016, the City’s workers’ compensation carrier conducted an independent medical exam finding that Swiech had a significant permanent partial disability. At a November 2016 hearing,…

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Not Against Public Policy To Reinstate Dishonest Corrections Officer

A limited public policy exception exists to the principle that arbitration decisions are final and binding. If an arbitrator’s award violates a well-established and unequivocal public policy, the arbitrator’s decision may be overturned. Most often in the public safety world the public policy exception is debated in cases involving the reinstatement of employees who have been proven to be dishonest. Such a case arose with the termination of Corrections…

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Arbitrator Upholds Termination Of Tamir Rice Officer, But On Other Grounds

On November 22, 2014, Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The shooting sparked protests, national media attention, visits to Cleveland by the U.S. Attorney General and a criminal investigation by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. When the grand jury issued a “no true bill” finding, the Police Chief established a…

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Q & A

From New Mexico Question: Where in the FLSA does it say that work hours can’t be adjusted to avoid the payment of overtime? Answer: The FLSA’s rules are pretty specific. Under the FLSA, an employer cannot adjust the start of the employee’s FLSA work week or work period for the purposes of avoiding overtime. However, the employer is free to adjust work hours within a work week or work…

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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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Disparate Treatment May Be Defense To Dishonesty Termination

The Town of West Bridgewater, Massachusetts terminated Daniel Desmond from the position of police officer for his “continued pattern of lying/perjury and conduct unbecoming a police officer.” The charges against him arose out of his relationship with a married woman referred to as Mrs. A. Ultimately, Mrs. A. completed an application for a restraining order against her husband. Desmond called the Brockton Police Department to obtain information about who…

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Correcting Lie During Same Interview Saves Officer’s Job

On December 2, 2013, a complainant alleged that an officer of the Hutchinson, Kansas Police Department had arrested her in late November for a DUI violation. The complainant said that the officer later telephoned her at home, sent her several text messages, and generally engaged in harassing conduct. The Department interviewed the officer, who admitted visiting the home of the complainant after the DUI arrest to follow up on…

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Dispatcher Terminated Over False Claims Against Police Officer

In August 2011, Valinda Carter, a dispatcher for the Columbia County, Florida Sheriff’s Department, was at home when she received a phone call from her brother. Columbia County Deputy Sheriff Joshua Latimer had just stopped Carter’s brother for a traffic violation. The apparent purpose of the brother’s call was to maintain an “open line” so that Carter could hear what was happening during the traffic stop. At some point,…

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Officer’s Lie Not Big Enough For Termination

Maintaining the public’s trust is as synonymous with law enforcement as the slogan “to protect and serve.” A sustained allegation of untruthfulness has long been regarded a career killer for police officers. Recent years have seen a significant impact from Brady v. Maryland, the U.S. Supreme Court case that requires prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense in a criminal case. Citing the Brady rule, prosecutors have placed…

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California Courts Continue Hard Line On Officer Dishonesty

Law enforcement recruits are often told that the one disciplinary offense that will not be tolerated is dishonesty. “You lie, you die” is a common parlance in many police academies. In practice, the rule has become less and less clear-cut. Many courts, arbitrators and civil service boards tend to see gradations of untruthfulness. To be sure, untruthfulness in official police reports, particularly where the untruthfulness impacts the rights of…

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Brady Does Not Necessarily Require Discharge Of Untruthful Trooper

Thomas C. Wetherington was employed as a trooper with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. In 2009, Wetherington was fired for violating the Patrol’s policies on untruthfulness. After a variety of appeals, the matter ended up in the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The Court started with the proposition that under North Carolina law, “determining whether a public employer had just cause to discipline its employee requires two separate…

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Court Finds Firefighters Different Than Police For Dishonesty Purposes

Richard Urich, a member of Local 2156 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, is a firefighter-paramedic for the City of North Royalton, Ohio. On April 17, 2010, Urich and two other firefighters were dispatched to assist a resident suffering an apparent seizure. Upon arriving at the scene, they were informed by the patient’s wife that the patient had a history of heroin abuse. The paramedics forcibly removed the…

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Lying In Application Process Does Not Prevent Later Disability Retirement

After serving for 26 years with the New York City Police Department and for brief stints with the U.S. Mint Police and the U.S. Federal Protective Service, Joseph O’Rourke joined the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department in 2001. He was then 52 years old. O’Rourke was assigned to the Third District, where he served for the next several years as a patrol officer. In July 2007, O’Rourke sustained…

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Public Policy Does Not Prohibit Reinstatement Of Dishonest Police Officer

In July 2005, an Alaska state trooper attended an out-of-state motorcycle certification program. Upon arrival at the program, the trooper was informed of a rule against horseplay such as performing “burnouts” with a motorcycle. It was later discovered that a student had performed a burnout with one of the motorcycles. At first, when he was asked individually and during a group meeting as to who performed the burnout, the…

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Trooper Loses Argument About What Constitutes Deployment Of ‘Stop Sticks’

Archie Story was a Tennessee highway trooper. In 2006, Story heard over his radio that the Gibson County Sheriff’s Department was involved in the pursuit of a vehicle. Story went to the general area to be able to assist. Story stopped at a location ahead of the pursuit and retrieved his “stop sticks,” a tire deflation device, from his trunk. He threw out the sticks, but they became tangled…

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Union, Not Officer, Is Party To Arbitration Challenging Officer’s Termination

Lazario Ruiz was a police officer with the City of North Las Vegas, Nevada. Ruiz was a member of the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association. When the City fired Ruiz for untruthfulness, the Association challenged the decision in arbitration. An arbitrator upheld Ruiz’s discharge, finding that the City had just cause for its decision. The Association then assigned to Ruiz its right to challenge the arbitration decision, and…

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Union, Not Officer, Is Party To Arbitration Challenging Officer’s Termination

Lazario Ruiz was a police officer with the City of North Las Vegas, Nevada. Ruiz was a member of the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association. When the City fired Ruiz for untruthfulness, the Association challenged the decision in arbitration. An arbitrator upheld Ruiz’s discharge, finding that the City had just cause for its decision. The Association then assigned to Ruiz its right to challenge the arbitration decision, and…

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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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Public Policy Prohibits Reinstatement Of Sergeant

Beth Rist worked as a sergeant for the Ironton, Ohio Police Department until October 2008, when she was fired for making a false report. The Fraternal Order of Police referred to arbitration a grievance challenging Rist’s termination. The Arbitrator found that in August 2008, Rist initiated a routine traffic stop. After Rist learned that the driver of the stopped vehicle, Dolly Newcombe, had expired tags and no driver’s license,…

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Firefighter Not Coerced Into Resigning

Kelvin Ross, who is African-American, was a firefighter for the City of Perry, Georgia. A fellow firefighter, Renee Kitchens, complained to Ross that a supervisor wore a T-shirt that offended her. The T-shirt depicted a firefighter laying on the front of a fire truck, dressed in shorts, slippers, a hat, and a shirt pulled up exposing his stomach. His legs were spread apart and something appeared to be in…

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‘Gross Error’ Required To Reverse Arbitrator’s Decision In Alaska

The termination of a four-year officer of the Airport Police and Fire Department of the Alaska Department of Transportation gave the Alaska Supreme Court the opportunity to revisit the standard used to evaluate arbitrators’ opinions. The termination was based on two events that occurred in May 2006 while the officer was working at the Alaska Law Enforcement Academy in Sitka, Alaska, and on the officer’s conduct during the subsequent…

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Police Officers, Progressive Discipline, And Dishonesty

Torres Mayfield was an officer with the Atlantic City, New Jersey Police Department. In the early morning hours on April 1, 2006, a deaf woman identified only as “J.M.” sought help from police complaining that she was assaulted by Officer Mayfield, her boyfriend. Mayfield assaulted her because he thought she was communicating on a computer with an old boyfriend. That night J.M. was distraught, upset and scared. She was…

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In Spite Of Brady Rule, Washington Supreme Court Reinstates Arbitrator’s Opinion Overturning Deputy’s Discharge For Untruthfulness

Brian LaFrance worked as a deputy for the Kitsap County, Washington Sheriff's Department for 14 years, during which he was disciplined several times. Beginning in May 2000, LaFrance began to behave unusually. He had been assigned to a child pornography task force, and he became “obsessive” and “fixated” on this work and on “protecting the children.” Despite repeated warnings and reprimands, LaFrance continued to work outside his regular shift…

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Police Agency Can Inquire As To Applicant’s Expunged Criminal Conviction

When Jimmy Macon was arrested for DUI after he began employment as a deputy jailer with the Shelby County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Department, the Department learned that in 1993, long before he began work for the County, Macon had pled guilty to a felony drug charge of manufacturing, delivery and possession of a controlled substance. Macon’s conviction was expunged in 1999. The County then began examining the security investigation statement…

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