I restore the Balance
Posted On:4/16/2003 10:29pm
Style: I wear pants
Court: OK to fire cop who abused sick time
RUSS OLIVO, Staff Writer
April 16, 2003
WOONSOCKET -- A Superior Court judge Tuesday affirmed the September 2002 decision of a panel convened under the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights to fire Patrolman Nathan Chattman for repeatedly playing hooky from work while he attended massage school and karate classes.
In a 15-page decision, Judge Francis Darigan said the three-member administrative panel acted within the scope of the law and evaluated the evidence fairly. "After reviewing the entire record and considering the arguments, this court affirms the decision of the committee," Darigan said. "This court finds that the decision of the committee is supported by reliable, probative and substantial evidence. Furthermore, the court finds that the committee’s decision did not constitute an abuse of discretion, was not affected by error of law, and is not arbitrary or capricious."
A 17-year veteran of the department, Chattman, 44, was fired by Police Chief Herve B. Landreville in March 2002 after he was charged with 31 violations of department regulations, including charges of abuse of sick time, lying about his sick claims and neglect of duty. Chattman missed 117 days of work in 2001 and 18 days in the first two months of 2002, police said. A panel convened under the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights upheld 20 of the charges and voted to fire Chattman on a 2-1 vote in September 2002. The Superior Court previously issued a stay of the ruling pending an appeal, from which Darigan ruled on Tuesday.
Summarizing the evidence, Darigan said that early in 2002, police surveilled Chattman and found "numerous instances" in which he had called in sick for his midnight-to-8 a.m. shift, then rose early the next morning to attend the Bancroft School of Massage in Worcester, the Pesare Karate School, or both. Police officers who are out sick are not required to call in daily, but must call in before their appointed shift when they are feeling well enough to return to work. But after failing to call work before his scheduled shift, Chattman frequently arose again the following morning and returned to his "extracurricular activities," the court said.
"The plaintiff called in sick for his midnight to eight a.m. shift with such ailments as chest pains, pink eye, headaches, urinary tract infections and vomiting," the court said. "When morning came, the plaintiff testified that he felt better and therefore went to massage classes, karate and even a father-daughter dance. When it came time for the plaintiff’s shift that night, the plaintiff testified that he suddenly felt ill again. This pattern was repeated ad nauseum." Detective Lt. Luke Gallant represented the city police on the hearing panel, while Chattman chose retired East Providence Lt. Ralph Ezovski. A third member, Lt. Stephen Enos, also of East Providence, was selected by the presiding chief judge of the Superior Court Joseph Rodgers, according to officials.
The evidence they relied on included surveillance reports, sick slips provided by Chattman, charts submitted by the city, Chattman’s medical documents and the testimony of Chattman, Capt. Gary Chamberland and Detective Lt. Dennis Perron, the city’s internal affairs officer. City Solicitor Joseph P. Carroll argued the case for the police, while Chattman was represented on the appeal by Stephen Famiglietti. Among the arguments Chattman mounted in attempts to reverse the decision of the hearing committee, the officer claimed the city failed to show any evidence that his behavior was inconsistent with that of a sick person. He argued that the committee failed to give his testimony and the medical documents he submitted ample weight.
But the court said the committee did not give as much weight to medical documents submitted by Chattman because it concluded that "said evidence consisted of unauthenticated and ineligible documents and incredible testimony." Darigan said, "The reasonable inferences drawn from the facts by the committee through the use of its members’ common sense were entirely justified." Chattman, who allegedly refused to provide police with a telephone number at the Bancroft School, also argued that a policy requiring police officers absent from duty to provide emergency numbers was "vague and therefore a violation of due process." Darigan also rejected that argument.
"By arguing that the general order is vague, the plaintiff attempts to blur the rather obvious distinction between stepping out to the pharmacy for twenty minutes and spending eight hours at massage school," Darigan said. Chattman could appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, but whether he intends to do so is unknown. Neither he nor Famiglietti could be reached yesterday. Police seemed pleased that the ruling strengthened the impression that it had dealt fairly with Chattman, who is one of only two African-American officers on the 101-member force; the other is his brother, David Chattman, a patrolman.
But Deputy Police Chief William J. Shea said "It’s not a happy time for any of us." If Chattman felt as though he needed a new career, he could have gone about it legitimately, Shea said. "Instead he took advantage of the system. How long are going to pay someone who you’re not getting any productivity out of?"
Kungfoolss, Scourge of the theory-based stylists, Most Feared man at Bullshido.com, and the Preeminent Force in the martial arts political arena
Posted On:4/17/2003 4:26pm
not very respectable
Hard work, Patience, Dedication.
The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed later.
"Just one more........rep!!! ARGH!!!" *Collapses*
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