MARCO ISLAND — A Marco Island police officer fired last year for insubordination and repeated misconduct has been reinstated by an independent arbiter.
Officer John Derrig, 28, will be back on the job Jan. 1 after arbiter Thomas G. Humphries found he was wrongfully terminated by then-police Chief Thom Carr in December 2010. He will receive six months of back pay, with the other six months serving as an unpaid suspension.
Internal investigators found Derrig made several mistakes during a September 2010 arrest, including failing to turn on his recording device, not attaching a photo of the arrested suspect’s bloody face to his report, and making conflicting statements to internal investigators. Derrig also was accused of using excessive force while arresting George Channing Dascoulias, then 28, in a restaurant restroom on drug charges, but those accusations were not sustained.
“John may have made some mistakes, but the bottom line was he didn’t intentionally do anything inappropriate and he never should have been fired,” union lawyer Michael Braverman said.
Humphries’ report, dated Dec. 12, said Derrig’s actions reflect sloppiness and negligence rather than insubordination.
In failing to turn on his recording device, Humphries wrote Derrig “is found to more closely approximate neglectful oversight rather than an instance of gross and wanton insubordination.” Derrig’s arrest report was the result of “sloppy and inattentive work products rather than gross disregard for clear supervisory directives,” Humphries wrote.
Derrig ultimately was fired for recurring insubordination. Administrators said he repeatedly failed to turn on his dashboard camera, received an excessive amount of citizen complaints and was accused of harassment.
Humphries, however, found police administrators hadn’t taken the proper steps to correct Derrig’s behavior before his firing.
“Had the employer, concluding that (Derrig’s) behavior was rapidly declining, meted out increasingly harsh penalties and warnings, (Derrig) may well have heeded those messages and changed his ways,” Humphries wrote.
Marco Island police Capt. Dave Baer said Friday that the city has received the arbiter’s report, but he declined further comment until he consulted with agency officials. Baer wasn’t immediately available Monday morning.