Victory for the Town of Webster in Patrol Officer Arbitration Case

Attorney Brian Maser successfully defended the Town of Webster in an important case at arbitration relating to a one (1) day suspension issued to a patrol officer for violating Department Rules.  Following an independent investigation in which the investigator found that the Patrol Officer violated Department Rules when he recorded a dash cam video on his personal cell phone, the Chief of Police suspended the officer for a period of two (2) working days.  Pursuant to Civil Service Law, the officer appealed the discipline to the Town Administrator who, after a hearing, reduced the suspension to one (1) day.  The officer’s exclusive bargaining agent, IBPO, Local 428, demanded arbitration and the parties thereafter selected an Arbitrator to resolve the dispute.  After a one (1) day hearing and the submission of post-hearing briefs, the Arbitrator found that the Town sustained its burden of showing just cause for the suspension.  While the Union attempted to show that the officer used his cell phone in the performance of his duty not unlike other members of the Department did to take photos at accident scenes, and the like, the Arbitrator found that the officer’s copying of the video to his cell phone served no legitimate police purpose.  The Arbitrator, moreover, found that the officer “was not forthcoming as to his actual reason for copying the video” and that his stated excuse for copying the video “to show [a supervisor]” made “little to no sense” given that the dash cam video was freely accessible in the Department from a number of in-house computer terminals, including the supervisor’s personal computer at his own work station.  We are pleased to have secured this result for the Town of Webster as it confirms the appropriateness of the Town Administrator’s action and upholds and enforces the Department’s Rules relative to the copying and dissemination of Department information.