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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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Participation In An Internal Affairs Investigation Not Protected By First Amendment

The ramifications of Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), continue to be felt in free speech cases brought by public employees. In Garcetti, the Supreme Court held that where speech is made as part of an employee’s job, it is not protected by the First Amendment. The teachings of Garcetti allow an employer to retaliate against an employee for speech made in the course of the job without…

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Ohio Supreme Court Decides Major Garrity Case

A recent decision from the Ohio Supreme Court addresses some important questions under the rule of Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967). The Garrity rule states that if a public employee is compelled to answer questions as part of a disciplinary interview, neither the employee’s answers nor the “fruits” of the answers can be used to criminally prosecute the employee. The case involved Anthony Jackson, a police…

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Racial Profiling Complaints Are Not Exempt From Public Disclosure

Maryland’s statutes concerning public documents are similar to those in many states, and contain an exemption allowing the non-disclosure of documents that are “personnel records.” A recent decision from the Maryland Court of Appeals addressed whether racial profiling records fit within the “personnel records” exception. The case had its origins in a 2003 consent decree entered into by the NAACP and the Maryland State Police. In 2007, the NAACP…

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Civil Service Appeals Get New Trials In Ohio

In October 2006, Michael Bryant was suspended by the Hamilton, Ohio Police Department for unbecoming conduct, untruthfulness, and insubordination. The internal affairs investigation which led to this sanction was conducted by Captain Joseph Murray, Lieutenant Scott Scrimizzi, and Sergeant Michael Waldeck. In early 2007, Murray received an unsolicited subscription to Cosmopolitan magazine along with a bill for $54. The bill indicated that subscriptions had also been sent to Lieutenant…

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Police Captain Wins $1.5 Million Jury Verdict In Retaliation Claim

William Broderick was a captain with the Boston Police Department. In 1988, Broderick was elected to become president of the Superior Officers Union, a full-time position he held until 2000. For the 12 years he was president of the Union, the atmosphere between Broderick and Police Commissioner Paul Evans was one of “conflict and distrust,” including “public charges and lawsuits by Broderick, and on the Department’s side, disciplinary proceedings…

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Detective Loses Malicious Prosecution Claim

Gary Felt was a detective with the Bellevue, Washington Police Department for 24 years. Felt helped establish the peer counseling program. As part of the program, in December 2003, Felt met with Officer Heidi Moon, who told him she had been sexually assaulted by a fellow officer at her home in Renton. Felt urged Moon to file a criminal complaint with the Renton Police Department. Felt later learned that…

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Deputy Loses $500,000 Verdict, Wins Retrial

Jay MacKenzie was a deputy sheriff for Rockingham County, New Hampshire. While off duty on the evening of April 23, 2004, MacKenzie went to a bar with a fellow deputy, Christopher Stone. MacKenzie and Stone left the bar and, while in the parking lot, Stone stopped to urinate. A man, later identified as Anthony Kobelanz, approached the two deputies demanding to use a cell phone. Kobelanz’s face was bloody,…

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No Reasonable Suspicion To Test Officer For Steroids

John Richard is a ten-year veteran of the Lafayette, Louisiana Police Department. Richard was friends with several individuals who became the target of a drug investigation by the Department. Department investigators raided the apartment of one of the suspects, and discovered both marijuana and steroids. During an internal affairs investigation that followed, the Department ordered Richard to take a drug test. Richard tested positive for steroids, and was subsequently…

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Officer Does Not Establish Necessary ‘Perversion Of Process’

Michael Watson was a police officer with the Jamestown, New York Police Department. Watson was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in connection with its investigation of a missing woman with whom Watson had a relationship. The FBI reported to the Department that its investigation revealed that Watson had been stalking women. The Department launched an internal investigation and, after receiving statements from three women, prepared a warrant…

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Criminal Investigation Tolls Statute Of Limitations Even On Non-Criminal Charges

Jerry Lucio was a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. In the course of his duties, Lucio met a woman who had attempted to commit suicide. Two months later, Lucio, who had just broken up with his girlfriend, went to the woman’s residence and began a personal relationship and subsequent intimate relationship with her. After several months, the woman called Internal Affairs, complaining that Lucio had threatened…

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Resignation Deprives Officers Of Ability To File Lawsuit

Grant Spinks, Robert Kovacs, and Michael Exley were police officers in Clinton, New Jersey. In 2001, the Police Department conducted an internal investigation based on complaints of malingering by some officers. The investigation revealed that several officers, including Spinks, Kovacs, and Exley, had been idle when they claimed to be working. The Township submitted the ultimate results of its investigation to a County prosecutor, who filed criminal charges. In…

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