For entire decision click on Town of Groveland v. Aaron Yeo
Aaron Yeo was fired by the Groveland Board of Selectmen on May 6, 2009, for misuse of department computers, lying about his location during the overnight shift, and lying to Police Chief Robert Kirmelewicz and Deputy Chief Jeffrey Gillen during an internal investigation.
Police Department officials said they installed a hidden camera and GPS device in a cruiser to prove Yeo was sleeping on duty and lying to dispatchers about his location. In the hearing, Yeo argued that he was disguising his location from eavesdropping terrorists.
According to an article in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune, Police Chief Robert Kirmelewicz said the department also installed software on police computers to track use by officers. That software showed that Yeo spent an excessive amount of time while on duty searching for employment and housing in New Hampshire, searching for women on MySpace and watching videos on YouTube, according to the state’s ruling.
Yeo’s attorney, Stephen Pfaff, argued that the department should have instituted progressive discipline for Yeo’s misuse of the computers. In the decision, the hearing officer dismissed that argument by deciding that Yeo’s misuse of the computers was “serious and could not plausibly have sprouted from a misunderstanding.”
While Aaron Yeo’s misuse of the computers and apparent disappearing acts on the midnight shift are serious, it was the dishonesty that appears to have most directly led to his firing. “Mr. Yeo’s consistent dishonesty and misconduct significantly breached his job duties and justified the discharge” wrote Michael Boyle, arbitrator for the Division of Labor Relations. Although we can never know for sure if Yeo still would have been discharged if he had not lied in his radio transmissions and come clean about his computer use when confronted, he would have had a much stronger case. As the arbitrator points out in his decision, honesty is the bedrock of the public’s confidence in police officers, and a dishonest officer makes a hard job that much more difficult for the honest ones.