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Candidate sues police academy
Friday, April 08, 2005
By BETSY CALVERT
[email protected]
GREENFIELD - A Deerfield man, Heath Cummings, has filed suit against the state's Western Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Center in Agawam, claiming he was defamed and deprived of his career. The suit was filed this week in Franklin Superior Court.

Cummings of 123D North Main St. said he was thrown out of the state-sponsored academy in 2003 and barred from working as a police officer in Erving due to allegations that he used excessive force against a female defensive tactics instructor.

Cummings also accuses academy Director Dori-Ann Ference of telling former Erving Police Chief John Paciorek that Cummings lied on reports about his back injury and that his conduct during police intervention simulations demonstrated he would be a liability to the town.

Those statements are untrue, Cummings said in the suit, and they caused Paciorek to withdraw the town's sponsorship of Cummings as an officer. He was therefore unable to graduate with the class in December 2003.

The academy did not follow its own policy, the suit states, which requires officials to hold an administrative hearing at which Cummings could defend himself. This review never took place, according to the suit.

Cummings is asking the court to order the state to pay him $50,000 in damages plus other penalties. He is also asking the court to order the academy to reinstate him, provide him with a hearing and to order Ference to withdraw in writing the statements she made to Paciorek pending the hearing.

Ference could not be reached for comment.
 
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