Detective is Ordered Reinstated

Posted on Thursday, January 01, 1998 at 12:00PM

Detective Debra White, a veteran member of the Montclair Police Department, was discharged from her position on January 18, 1996. Arbitrator Michael Prihar recently issued an award to reinstate her with all benefits of employment.

White was removed from her position over a dispute with a detective supervisor occurring on September 9, 1995.

While she was the duty detective on the evening of the 9th, and subject to call out, she had also volunteered to work an overtime slot in the dispatch center, believing that she could get one of several dispatchers to respond and cover her overtime position in the dispatch center, if she received a call out as the “duty” detective.

Her detective supervisor noticed that she was working in the dispatch center when he arrived at the station to supervise an unrelated detective operation. He walked to the dispatch center and asked White if she was indeed the duty detective for that evening. She responded that she was.

Upon hearing this, the supervisor invited her to the coffee room and while he filled his thermos with coffee, he inquired as to what she would do if there was a call out. She explained her understanding that she could call upon an off-duty dispatcher to respond and that there should not be any problem.

She had all of her detective gear at the station anyway, so she could probably be in the field on the detective assignment faster than if she had to come from home on the call out.

The detective supervisor testified at the hearing that he concluded from this conversation that she had made specific arrangements with a particular dispatcher for such a contingency, thus placing that off-duty dispatcher on something of a “stand by” status.

Although the supervisor testified that he could not point to any specific words that White said which unequivocally indicated that White had placed a dispatcher on “stand by”, he did testify that the overall “gist” of her remarks “implied” this to be the case.

In addition to this detective supervisor’s testimony that he had been misled by the detective, and that she “lied” to him, the department also attempted to besmirch the detective’s credibility and reputation by bringing in other previous incidents of alleged dishonesty to supervisors. All of his failed.

Arbitrator Prihar issued his advisory decision recently finding that the evidence did not support the charges that White was dishonest to her supervisor on September 9, 1995, or that she was dishonest on the internal investigation which followed those events.

Prihar issued an award calling for Debra White’s reinstatement in good standing with back pay and benefits, to her position as a detective retroactive to January 18, 1996.

Throughout the proceedings leading to her termination, and through the contested hearings before Mr. Prihar, Ms. White was represented by Ms. Muna Busailah and Mr. Michael P. Stone of Michael P. Stone P.C. of Pasadena.

Under the city rules, the city may appeal to the City Counsel to set aside the arbitrator’s award.

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