Monday, February 1, 2010

Special Commission Meeting About The Police Tuesday Feb 2

From the North Bay Village Web Page.



Now this will prove to be a really intriguing meeting. The subject is whether the city will rehire a fired police officer as a temporary employee funded by forfeiture funds. Since this is North Bay Village, nothing is quite that simple.

Here's what I know. An NBV police officer was dismissed for cause. He contested the dismissal and the city agreed to arbitration. Then it gets sticky.

Apparently, the rules were not followed in filing the complaint that lead to the dismissal. The Internal Affairs investigation did not file the complaint within 180 days and there are suggestions (I don't have a fact on this.) that the paperwork was botched.

NBV's attorney and our labor attorney do not believe that the city will prevail in arbitration, which looks only at process and not merit in deciding the case.

Therefore, the city has proposed rehiring Officer Abramson to a new temporary position. The total cost would be around $16,000 additional.

If we fight this, according to legal advice, the city could be on the hook for as much as $400,000 (40% of our reserve) and would likely lose, having to reinstate the officer with full back pay.

This was complicated by some very stupid behavior on the part of our detectives who held an impromptu interview with a citizen in the early hours of the morning. You can hear the interview on YouTube. Just put in North Bay Village posted by Scanman (Fane Lozman) It's a rambling mess.

Tomorrow, the mayor is proposing that the city settle. Not to oversimplify, but his reasoning seems to be that the city is going to lose this case and this way we don't spend the $400k. The Vice Mayor objects and has written a memo to the other commissioners saying that he will report the city to the Dept of Justice if the city goes ahead.

This should be pretty contentious. I can't go as I am in New Jersey.

Here's my take though:

I understand the city believes the case will be lost. This is unfortunate since the officer was fired for cause. The undisputed facts are that he minded the bar at Happy's Stork Lounge in uniform, transported inventory for the same lounge and a very weak complaint that he drove some patrons home who were too loaded to drive. On the first two, that's enough for me that we don't need him. I don't mind the driving drunks home part - it might be against the rules but it's better than letting them drive themselves.

It seems to me that the whole mess is a Keystone Kops farce. It sucks that North Bay Village police, who are not that busy, couldn't do a proper investigation. I hate that politics are involved in this internal matter.

The decision comes down to this. Do we take a Quixotic stand against the rehire, risking our already too low surplus and the possibility of loss?

Our Vice Mayor's argument is that the rehire cannot be paid out of federal funds. This contradicts the NBV legal advice. I wish I could post the memo but I don't have the ability. It's kind of weird.

First the Vice Mayor states "I am not an attorney" and then shows the result of a web search which he says supports his belief that the money cannot be used to fund a new position.

Well, you know what, I am not an attorney either but when I need legal advice, I consult one.

In the same vein, I'm not a surgeon so when I need surgery, I consult one.

The Vice Mayor is well within his rights to insist that other legal opinions be sought but when he says, "If at any time the settlement takes place and forfeiture funds are used I personally will contact the US Department of Justice with the complete investigation file." that's not governing. That's just a threat.

Finally, my opinion is that we should not risk the reserve. In the meantime though, the PD needs to be reviewed top to bottom. The only reason this came to this sorry pass was mismanagement.

Your thoughts?

Kevin Vericker

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