Massachusetts Cop Forum banner

SJC backs Boston on firing of officer

1087 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  quality617
SJC backs Boston on firing of officer
Decision rejects arbitrator's ruling
By Andrea Estes, Globe Staff | April 5, 2005

The state's highest court yesterday ruled that the Boston Police Department had the right to fire an officer who arrested two people over a minor double-parking violation and lied to justify the arrests.

The Supreme Judicial Court, in a unanimous decision that could have broad significance, ruled that the city can fire patrolman John DiSciullo even though an arbitrator ordered him returned to work five years ago.

The arbitrator had ruled that although DiSciullo's behavior was ''egregious" and ''outrageous" toward two civilians and that his later police reports were ''transparently phony," termination was too harsh a punishment. Other Boston police officers had done worse and received lesser punishment, the arbitrator had found.

The SJC, in a rare reversal of an arbitrator's ruling, said that DiSciullo should be kicked off the force, saying that his ''continued employment as a police officer would frustrate strong public policy against the kind of egregious dishonesty and abuse of official position in which he was proved to have engaged."

Boston police officials yesterday immediately placed DiSciullo, who had been assigned to the Operations Division, on administrative leave. They said he will be terminated.

''One of my four priorities for 2005 is ensuring public trust and department accountability," said Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole. Such trust and confidence, she said, are ''essential for community policing to work effectively. In this particular instance this officer violated that trust by lying under oath and therefore let down the community and the Boston Police Department."

DiSciullo was on patrol August 20, 1997, driving down Shawmut Avenue, when he pulled alongside a double-parked car. After asking the driver how long he intended to remain there, he got into an argument with two people in the car, Jonathan Rodriguez, who was in the front passenger seat, and his wife, Yadira Caminero, in the back.

He had a ''demeaning attitude" toward the couple, the arbitrator found, and called Caminero ''a bitch." He later had to be restrained by other officers to keep him from striking Rodriguez.

DiSciullo arrested the couple, charging them with disorderly conduct, assault and battery on a police officer, and resisting arrest. He said he was repeatedly assaulted on the arms and torso by Rodriguez and Caminero and suffered injuries on his arm and right shoulder. Those charges were later dropped by the District Attorney's Office.

The arbitrator found that the charges brought by DiSciullo were ''knowingly untrue."

After an internal affairs investigation in January 1999, DiSciullo, a veteran of the force since 1988, was suspended as ''unfit for duty" and later fired.

DiSciullo appealed to the arbitrator, who found that although the officer had threatened the couple and made false accusations, termination was unwarranted.

The city sued, but both the Superior Court judge and the appeals court affirmed the arbitrator's decision.

In overturning the arbitrator and the lower courts, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall wrote: ''A police officer who uses his position of authority to make false arrests and to file false charges, and then shrouds his own misconduct in an extended web of lies and perjured testimony, corrodes the public's confidence in its police force."

DiSciullo's lawyer, Boston Police Patrolmen's Association attorney John Becker, said the decision could signal a new willingness by Massachusetts courts to reject arbitrators' rulings, which both city and union officials -- in the union's collective bargaining agreement -- agree to be bound by.

''Now, a lot of employees, particularly public employers and public safety employers, will be second-guessing arbitrators," said Becker. ''An arbitrator can be wrong on the law, an arbitrator can be wrong on the facts and they will not be overturned unless they exceed their authority or if (the decision) would violate public policy. Until now, the policy exception has been extremely narrow."
See less See more
Not open for further replies.
1 - 1 of 3 Posts
1 - 1 of 3 Posts
Not open for further replies.