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Deputy Doubles Down On Dishonesty, Loses Job

Deputy Mark Montez worked as a corrections officer for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. On September 27, 2010, Dequan Ballard, an inmate in the jail, stole items from a commissary cart. The theft was reported to Deputy Omar Lopez, who informed Montez. Lopez and Montez took Ballard to an elevator landing to strip search him for the stolen items. Lopez searched Ballard while Montez monitored the hallway to…

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Termination For Theft ‘Shocks Conscience’ Of Court

The New York Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau conducted an integrity test whereby an undercover officer acted intoxicated while parked illegally near a fire hydrant. A video of the incident shows Officer Richard Arroyo going into the undercover officer’s vehicle, taking $55 from the center console, taking a $20 bill and putting it into his left hand, while counting out the remaining $35 and grabbing that with his right…

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Fire Lieutenant Terminated For Twice Testing Positive For Marijuana

Marlon Cooper, a lieutenant with the Memphis Fire Department, first tested positive for marijuana in 2008. At that time, Cooper was not terminated from his employment, but instead was suspended for 360 hours and thereafter entered into an employee assistance program (EAP). Although Cooper was given a second chance, the City made clear that illegal drug use was not permitted by its personnel, noting in its 2008 suspension letter…

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Lapse Of State Certification Results In Loss Of Officer’s Job

Adrian Rodriguez became a Miami police officer in 2007. In 2012, the City’s homicide unit received a tip that Rodriguez’s brother and father may have been involved in a homicide in 2007. In 2013, based on the results of an Internal Affairs investigation, Rodriguez was relieved of duty with pay. While on relieved-duty, Rodriguez was observed violating the terms of his relieved-duty status. In 2016, the City terminated Rodriguez….

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No Mutiny, No Termination

On November 13, 2018, the City of Virden, Illinois served a notice of termination on a dispatcher by the name of Ibberson. The notice detailed four reasons for termination: (1) that Ibberson had encouraged another dispatcher to disregard telephone calls from the Department and had informed him of the date and time when she planned to call in sick; (2) by engaging in “insubordination or mutinous activity” by encouraging…

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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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Firing Of Former Sheriff’s Wife Does Not Violate The First Amendment

Tamela Muir, Bert Muir, and Ben Boswell worked for the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) in Iowa. Tamela began working for the DCSO in November 1996 as a jailer and dispatcher. Her employment was at-will. Bert started working for the DCSO on March 19, 1998, when he was elected Sheriff. He hired Boswell as a Deputy Sheriff in September 2001. Tamela and Bert were married in January 2008, and…

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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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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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Reinstatement Of Officer Who Filed False Report Strikes ‘Appropriate Balance’

Fortunato Montella is a police officer with the Borough of Stanhope in New Jersey. On September 2, 2014, Montella was conducting routine traffic stops in the Borough. After completing this assignment, he intended to drive his patrol car to the Borough-approved car wash in Roxbury, which was about 1.5 miles away. After that, he planned to take his lunch break. Montella’s sister called him as he was in the…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Award Reinstating Trooper Who Cannot Carry Gun

Following his assignment to Troop M of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), Trooper Craig Acord became romantically involved with Trooper Rachel Jones. After their relationship ended in 2014, Jones filed several complaints against Acord, alleging harassing behavior. As a result, Acord was issued a Supervisor’s Notation instructing him to cease communications with Trooper Jones and was the subject of two internal and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) investigations relating to…

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Failure To Hold Timely Hearing Results In Reinstatement Of Terminated Detective

On December 3, 2013, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn discharged Detective Rodolfo Gomez for violating departmental rules stemming from his use of force during an interrogation. The next day, Gomez filed a notice of appeal of his discharge with Milwaukee’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. On December 6, the Board issued a scheduling notice requiring the parties to identify witnesses and exhibits, stating that the time of trial…

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Taser Exposure Not Essential To Job Of Detective

Jacqueline Lewis, an African-American police detective in Union City, Georgia, was terminated abruptly from her position in 2010, after about ten years of service. In January 2009, Lewis suffered a small heart attack. The episode was unusual in that a cardiac catheterization showed “no clot and no disease” in Lewis’s heart, although heart attacks generally are caused by a “clot inside the coronary arteries.” And while Dr. Arshed Quyyami,…

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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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Officer’s Resignation Could Amount To ‘Constructive Termination’

The start of a recent federal court of appeals opinion involving Officer Anthony Rodriguez of the City of Doral, Florida Police Department set the stage for a rare court decision finding that an employee’s resignation could be a “constructive termination”: “In this case, Anthony Rodriguez, who was employed as a police officer with the City of Doral, alleges that Doral and its mayor, Juan Carlos Bermudez, arranged for Rodriguez’s…

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Court Upholds $4.1 Million Judgment In Favor Of Police Chief

Doug Greisen was the police chief for Scappoose, Oregon. Greisen brought this lawsuit against Defendant Jon Hanken, the Scappoose City Manager. Greisen became concerned about Hanken’s management of the City’s overall budget. Greisen voiced his concern to several people outside his chain of command, including City Councilor Judi Ingham. In addition to discussing his specific concerns about the Police Department’s budget, Greisen discussed with Councilor Ingham matters concerning Hanken’s…

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No Evidence That Arbitrator Was Partial In Chief’s Termination Case

Matthew Cummings was the Police Chief for Newton, Massachusetts. Cummings worked under an employment contract, which specified that any dispute concerning his “termination of employment…shall be resolved exclusively by arbitration under the Voluntary Labor Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association.” The agreement also specified that “the arbitrator’s decision, if in accordance with law, shall be final and binding upon the parties.” When the City terminated Cummings for conduct…

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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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In Non-Union Environment, Following Lieutenant’s Instructions Can Lead To Termination

A basic tenet of the principle of “just cause” for discipline is that public safety employees are expected to follow the instructions of their supervisors, except if doing so would result in the employee unnecessarily endangering his/her safety or in violating the law. A recent case from Mississippi shows that in a non-union environment – where the principles of “just cause” do not apply – following a supervisor’s instructions…

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Firefighter Loses Job Over Family Dispute Between Supervisors

Glen Naghtin was a firefighter for the Montague, Michigan Fire Department. Two brothers, Donald and Dennis Roesler, also worked for the Department. Donald was a unit captain and Dennis was the Fire Chief. In 2009, the Fire District’s Board authorized the construction of a new fire station. After construction had commenced, Donald Roesler began expressing concerns about the structure, including numerous fire-code violations and deviations from the station’s planned…

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‘Last-Chance’ Agreement Means What It Says

Occasionally, employees with a pattern of misbehavior enter into “last-chance” agreements in lieu of termination. Under those agreements, an employer agrees not to terminate an employee for whatever the employee’s current offense is, and the employee agrees that a finding of future misconduct will result in the loss of the employee’s job. Fox Lake, Illinois Police Officer Tom Olson got to his last-chance agreement in a different manner. Olson…

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Court Overturns Termination Of Deputy Who Tested Positive For Steroid Metabolites

Richard Orosco was employed as a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff from 2001 to 2008. In September 2007, officers from the Long Beach Police Department responded to a domestic violence call at the home where he lived with his girlfriend, Veronica Hernandez, and their infant son. The officers determined that Hernandez was the aggressor and arrested her. The police report contained her statement that Orosco was taking illegal steroids…

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‘Assault Pay’ Ends With Termination

On January 21, 2008, while working for the Massachusetts Department of Correction, Mark Marchand sustained a knee injury when he intervened to protect a fellow employee from an assault by an inmate. As a result of the injury, Marchand began to receive workers’ compensation benefits as well as an enhanced benefit known as “assault pay.” Eventually, the Department determined that Marchand was medically unfit for duty and separated him…

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Fire Captain Discharged For Refusing To Stop Using Department Email For Religious Messages

Jonathan Sprague was a captain with the Spokane Valley, Washington Fire Department. Sprague formed the Spokane Christian Firefighters Fellowship, and in 2011 began distributing newsletters and meeting notices for that group via the Department’s e-mail system. Sprague’s messages concerning Fellowship meetings often contained scriptural passages and mentioned the topics being discussed at the meetings. The Department responded by reminding Sprague that its e-mail system was to be used for…

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