Friday, August 21, 2009

Falat Deal - there's more

This morning's Northwest Herald reports another part of the "deal" between the Woodstock Police Chief and Ofc. Mitch Falat, who was suspended for 30 (non-continuous!) days without pay on Wednesday, August 19.

An additional provision of the Agreed Disciplinary Order, not disclosed publicly at the Special Meeting of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, is that Ofc. Falat is to have no intentional contact with City Councilman (and Chief of the Woodstock Fire Rescue District) Ralph Webster.

The newspaper reports that the "Woodstock family" had taken their "concerns" to Councilman Webster.

Why does a family find it necessary to take "concerns" to a City Councilman? One must assume that they had reported their "concerns" to the chief of the Woodstock Police Department. Did they feel that nothing was happening? Or that anything that was happening, was not happening quickly enough?

Falat was disciplined for violating a February 19 order from the chief to have no contact with the Woodstock woman. Therefore, the complaint must have been registered with the police department prior to February. How long before February was their complaint filed?

If he did continue to have contact with the woman, in violation of the February 19 order, what subsequent complaints or reports did the family make to the police department, and why did it take until August 19 for the disciplinary hearing before the Board?

I had a conversation with this family on July 2, and that followed their meeting with the City Manager. Putting pieces of the puzzle together, then it seems to me that the family went to Councilman Webster in June. February-to-June is a long time for lack of decisive action by command personnel at the police department.

And from July 2 - August 19 is a long time to take action to discipline extraordinary behavior or actions against a town resident.

What else is in the Agreed Disciplinary Order? Is there more that has not been revealed? Why was there even any "negotiation" to it? The chief has the authority to initiate discipline. He could have placed the officer on immediate paid leave and requested a Board meeting, which would have been held no sooner than two days later.

Instead, this family had to endure months continued unwanted and improper attention from the officer. Apparently, discipline resulted only after the family appealed to a City Councilman and the City Manager became involved.

By these delays, the City has very likely allowed itself to be exposed to financial liability. The first responsibility is to its own residents, not to its employees. It did not meet its first responsibility in this case.


Frank said...

Gus wrote..."Instead, this family had to endure months continued unwanted and improper attention from the officer."


Gus, is this the same officer who had an order of protection against a women who he listed as boyfriend/girlfriend in a diffrent story you wrote about? It sure sounds like your only hearing and writing about one side of a story again.

Gus said...

Yes, the same officer.

Seems like I got more than the first side of the story by attending the the BOFPC Special Meeting, even though I didn't ask enough questions after the meeting ended.

Next time I'll know to ask, "Is there anything you are not telling me?"