Monday, August 24, 2009

WPD Suspension Policy - WRONG!

The policy of the Woodstock Police Department to stretch out unpaid suspensions and allow an officer to continue to work is a terrible policy.

The recent unpaid, 30-day suspension of Ofc. Mitchell J. Falat is a clear example of this Department's erroneous policy. On Wednesday of last week, the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners suspended Falat for 30-days, unpaid.

And the very next day, Thursday, he was working! On the day after the Board accepted an Agreed Disciplinary Order negotiated by the officer's attorney with the police chief, Robert Lowen, Falat was working, not beginning to serve his 30-day unpaid suspension.

This decision, uncommunicated to the parties who filed complaints farther back than February, 2009, demonstrates that the City of Woodstock cares little about imposing a serious and strict penalty on a police officer who violates a direct order from the chief of police.

What message does this send?

To officers, it sends a message that you can thumb your nose at the chief, get an attorney, work a "deal" and keep right on working.

To residents, it sends a message that you can't really count on your City government, even the civilian, Mayor-appointed, Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, and you definitely cannot count on the command personnel at the police department.

The officer was ordered in February to stay away from a certain married woman in Woodstock. He didn't. The family continued to complain to the police department. Why didn't the police department act sooner? Why was it necessary for the family to go to a city councilman and to the City Manager? And why didn't other, fellow officers who knew what was going on tell Falat to knock it off?

And now the officer will get to drag out his suspension, continue working, continue earning his income and occasionally take a day off without pay. Where is the harsh penalty that should correct his behavior and be a clear message to all (other officers, residents, City employees) that such behavior will not be condoned in Woodstock?

Why should the Police Department get to avoid the consequences of his behavior? Supposedly, allowing him to continue to work means less disruption to the duty roster. Well, SO WHAT?

If command personnel fail to halt serious errors in behavior of an officer and the duty roster suffers, they get to bear the responsibility. Maybe the City Council will begin paying closer attention to labor costs and start asking more questions about reasons!

11 comments:

The Madd Bulldog said...

Dont let this go to your head Buster- but I agree with you on this one.

fromadistance said...

There are always two sides to each story. Sounds like one half of this is trying to save face and rationalize their actions to her husband and community. Too bad the officer involved is being the better person and is not venting his dirty laundry to the community. Why would a person vent his wife's dirty laundry to the the community anyway?

Private said...

Natawannbee said "A suspension is a suspension regardless if it is 30 consecutive days or strung out over several pay periods.

Another thing to consider is the affect upon the department operations. Giving the agency the latitude to schedule his days off so that it does not require OT to cover his suspension days is in the best interest of the city."

I actually agree with Notawannabee on this. Why hurt the city by paying out extra money for shift coverage? I don't want to see them hammer the guy, just send him a message that he messed up and let it be done.

Seems he is still losing pay and worse than that his name has been spread all over the net.

Gus said...

So, let's hammer the police department, instead. Had those in charge of enforcing the February order done their jobs back after the order to stay away from the woman was issued iin February, then this never would have come to the current situation.

We can only assume that the P.D. commanders did little or nothing to monitor compliance with the February order to stay away from her. Did they ever check with her to determine whether the problem had stopped? Apparently not.

This, in itself, is more serious than the 30-day unpaid suspension.

Private said...

Maybe so Gus. I don't know any facts of the case so its hard to comment. I am not really familiar with Woodstock PD. I don't know if they have one sgt per shift or many. If ( and I said if) the supervisor(s) were lacking some oversight, then maybe the Sgt's or Commanders there should be held accountable and get a spanking along with the officer. This seems to smell of some politics.

My point is only that with budgets being slim, it seems ok to me to spread it out so the PD still can provide service to the citizens without paying extra OT.

DA said...

was this the officer that wrote you for the headlight out or is your hatred you are showing just more of your general hatred for the police?

You would rather have the department pay thousands in overtime pay by making it consecutive instead of being fiscally responsible like they should be in these tough economic times?

There you go ASSuming again Gus. Do you have any facts that the command staff did nothing? No you do not. As usual, you never let a little thing like lack of facts stop you from issuing your statements of wrongdoing.

Frank said...

Gus, do you have any concept of the amount of money 30 WORKING days of pay he is losing out on? I don't know of any other employers that the penalty for dating a married women is $4,000-$5,000 dollars. This is a huge penalty because of a jealous husband who can't blame his wife instead. I agree with the city in adjusting the days of the suspension. It ends up being more finacially beneficial for the taxpayers. Not only do they save paying his salary but there is no overtime paid.

Gus wrote that "This, in itself, is more serious than the 30-day unpaid suspension." Do you mean he should have been terminated? He didn't break any laws! Actually, you wrote that he got an order of protection against her!! So people had sex and it cost this officer a lot of money for that lay! Get over it!

fromadistance said...

Hey Private! Somebody knows the facts out there. Has anyone thought there was no validity to the complaints about the officer. From what I understand police cars are on a rolling 24/7 video camera and have GPS. Maybe that may have something to prove to the situation?

Gus said...

fromadistance, if there was no validity to the complaints, then the Woodstock PD Chief would not have sought a 30-day unpaid suspension and the officer and his attorney would not have agreed to it.

Your other comments have not been posted. If I can verify your accusations, I'll post them.

Gus said...

Frank, I believe you may have missed the point of my "more-serious" comment. That was directed at any failure by command personnel to ascertain that the problem had stopped by contacting the person who complained. If they failed to contact her and learn that the problem had not stopped, that is the "more serious" problem.

The officer wasn't disciplined for dating a married woman (if that is what was occurring). He was disciplined for failing to stay away from her, as ordered.

A 30-day unpaid suspension, without other discipline in the interim, is very serious.

And, no, the Department should not get a break to meet staffing requirements. They can allocate the withheld salary to partially cover any overtime required to fill an empty slot.

I understand this "non-continuous suspension" discipline may be a practice of WPD that has gone on for years.

Again, had the Chief and the Board been transparent, instead of hoping no one would ask any questions, the discipline would have been worth one short article and that would have been the end of it.

fromadistance said...

Frank, you are a fast learner! Too bad others are slow learners! The truth is out there somewhere, one just needs to go out and find it.

Gus, it seems like u are only interested in posting accusations on this headline? It is all accusations according to the town gossip. Did you happen to see the bloggs posted on the Herald? It must be ok to talk smack about a police officer but not an elected and appointed offical?

More to come.....