Division of Labor Relations upholds firing of Groveland Police Officer

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.

 

About Attorney John J. MacLaughlan

John MacLaughlan is Massachusetts licensed attorney as well as a Boston police officer. John is currently assigned to the Youth Violence Strike Force (Gang Unit). He is a graduate of the Massachusetts School of Law with a concentration in Labor Law. He holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell as well as a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. John has taught Defensive Tactics, Firearms, Use of Force, Applied Patrol Procedures, and Police Response to Active Shooters to sworn police officers and police academy recruits. Prior to becoming a Boston Police Officer, John served for 9 years as a police officer in Lowell, where he was a member of the Police Dive Team and Patrol Rifle Team.
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