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Chief Deputy Loses Job After Heated Meeting With Union President

Patricia Fritz was the Chief Deputy in the Office of the Sheriff of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. In August 2018, Fritz met with Corporal Steven Felder in his capacity as union president. After other business had been concluded, Felder began a discussion with Fritz concerning her implementation of a policy requiring medical excuses for absence from work in certain situations. Felder challenged the propriety of that requirement. The conversation became…

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‘An Investigation Is Not An Object That Can Be Measured With A Ruler’

Officer Todd Furlong, who worked for the City of Inglewood, California, crashed his patrol car on La Brea Avenue while speeding to respond to an emergency call. The Department assigned Traffic Investigator Jeffrey LaGreek to the accident. LaGreek noted La Brea Avenue has two northbound and two southbound lanes at the location of the accident, as well as a center median. Furlong was driving in the left lane. A…

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Alleged Murder Not Within ‘Course And Scope Of Employment’

Timothy Matouk is a police officer with the City of Harper Woods, Michigan. Matouk, the City, and others were sued by the family of Matouk’s cousin, JoAnn Matouk Romain. Romain disappeared in January 2010, and a later investigation by the Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Farms Police Departments revealed some evidence that Romain walked out onto a frozen lake and fell through the ice. Although a search ensued,…

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Selling Shoes On E-Bay Not ‘Misconduct’ Disqualifying Trooper From Unemployment

State unemployment compensation laws generally award unemployment benefits to employees who have been fired, with the notable exception of employees who are fired for “misconduct.” In the unemployment context, “misconduct” is a fairly high standard of proof, as shown recently by a case involving the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. The case involved Freddie Huff, a state trooper. Huff received a pair of state-issued shoes as part of…

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Sergeant’s Sexual Relationship With Subordinate Results In Termination

In 2012, a massive sex scandal rocked the City of Lakeland, Florida’s Police Department. The scandal resulted in multiple terminations and the resignation of Police Chief Lisa Womack. At the heart of the scandal was Sue Eberle, a civilian crime scene analyst who admitted to having sexual relations with over 30 City employees, over half of whom were Lakeland police officers. The West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA)…

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Sergeant Can Be Disciplined For Working Without Permission

Sergeant George Foss works for the Township of Pennsauken, New Jersey Police Department. In 2010, the Township and Lodge No. 3 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) entered into an agreement that, for the balance of the year, all covered officers would be furloughed for four days without pay. In August, all officers were notified of their scheduled furlough days and each, including Foss, acknowledged receipt of the…

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The ‘Misconduct’ Standard In Unemployment Cases

There are a few cases dealing with when terminated public safety employees are entitled to unemployment compensation. As a result, it may surprise some employers to learn that to deny unemployment benefits, they usually have to prove not just that the employee violated a work rule, but also that the employee engaged in “misconduct,” a high standard under the law. A recent decision of the Wyoming Supreme Court shows…

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Court Upholds Law Criminalizing False Reports Of Police Misconduct

On April 17, 2008, Melissa Jean Crawley went to the Winona County, Minnesota Law Enforcement Center, met with Winona Police Department Sergeant Christopher Nelson, and informed Nelson that a police officer had forged her signature on a medical release form at a Winona hospital. Nelson asked Crawley who she thought had forged her signature. Crawley noted that the form was signed “Melissa Crawley at 0600 hours,” and informed Nelson…

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City Not Required By ADA To Offer Light-Duty Accommodation To Fire Investigator

Public safety employees have been notably unsuccessful in convincing courts that their employers should accommodate disabilities by assigning them light-duty work. As learned by Gary Cremeens, a Fire Investigator for the City of Montgomery, Alabama, courts routinely hold that employers have no obligation under the Americans With Disabilities Act to accommodate disabilities that interfere with the employee’s ability to perform the core functions of the job. Cremeens worked off…

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Officer’s Resignation Was Voluntary

Jessica Rademakers was a detective with the Lee County, Florida Sheriff’s Department. In May 2006, Rademakers attended a retirement party for a lieutenant. A captain complained that Rademakers had rubbed her breasts against another captain and had engaged in other “inappropriate physical contact” with the captain and a lieutenant. An internal investigation ensued. The investigation concluded that Rademakers had committed both conduct unbecoming an officer and insubordination by being…

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