LCW Partner Jennifer Rosner And Associate La Rita Turner Convinced An Arbitrator To Sustain A Termination Of Peace Officer Who Could Not Carry A Firearm

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Law Enforcement Briefing Room, Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education, Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: Feb 07, 2023

Partner Jennifer Rosner and Associate La Rita Turner successfully convinced an arbitrator to sustain the termination of a peace officer. Throughout April and May of 2019, a city police officer had repeated law enforcement contacts arising out of domestic violence involving the mother of the officer’s child.  The officer failed to report one of those incidents to the Department as required.  The mother of the officer’s child came to the station to file a complaint that alleged the officer harassed her by continuously calling and texting her hateful and abusive messages.

The officer admitted to texting and calling but claimed his communications were about seeing their daughter.  The officer’s supervisor stated that excessively texting or calling could be committing a crime under Penal Code 653m, and recommended the officer cease such conduct.  He also reminded the officer that peace officers are held to a higher standard, which the officer claimed not to have known.  Shortly thereafter, the officer texted his supervisor an explicit photograph of him and the mother of his child having sex.

On June 17, 2019, the woman sought and received a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) for Domestic Violence against the officer.  She sought and received a second TRO on November 19, 2019, after the first had expired.  As part of the TRO, the Court ordered the officer to surrender his firearm.  Due to the continuous harassment, the Court granted a Permanent Restraining Order against the officer on January 17, 2020.  A condition of the permanent restraining order was that the officer could not own or possess a firearm for two years.

The City terminated the officer for: his failure to report one law enforcement contact; the inappropriate sexting exchange with his supervisor; and his inability to meet a primary requirement of his job: owning a firearm.

The arbitrator sustained the termination, noting that in addition to the restriction on the firearm causing obvious just cause for dismissal, “[i]t is very unlikely that any law enforcement agency would hire or retain a person with [the officer’s] history of a domestic disturbance and domestic violence.  It is obvious that police officers are mandated to enforce the law, and officers cannot violate the same laws that they are required to enforce.  That is absolutely unacceptable.”

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