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Hearing Officer Upholds Termination Of Peace Officer Who Threatened Violence Against Coworkers
LCW Partner Jennifer Rosner and Associate Ashley Sykora recently prevailed in a peace officer termination appeal. The case concerned a male corporal who had an on-and-off affair with a female corporal while they were off-duty for approximately 10 years. The relationship had been volatile for years. The female corporal complained about the male corporal after he began threatening violence against her and another deputy in the department. The male corporal appeared to believe the female corporal was having an intimate relationship with the deputy. The male corporal was charged with violation of the department’s policy against harassment and workplace violence, as well as conduct unbecoming of an officer.
The male corporal argued that his discipline was disparate treatment because the female corporal also harassed him and used derogatory and profane language in their communications, but only he received discipline. He also maintained that his vulgar statements were merely “hyperbole”, and not actual threats.
The hearing officer found that the corporal’s conduct clearly constituted threats and violated numerous department policies, including those prohibiting harassment and workplace violence. The hearing officer stated that “Even if it is unlikely that the Appellant [the male corporal] intended to carry out the threats…such threats constitute totally unacceptable conduct, for which discharge has been recognized as an appropriate penalty.” The hearing officer also found that the male corporal did not submit any evidence that the department treated him disparately. Based on these findings, the hearing officer sustained the termination.
The hearing officer noted that even if disparate treatment had been found it would not have been a reason to deny the termination, absent evidence that the present investigation was fabricated, falsified, or otherwise tainted by grave deficiencies.