Marco police developing special training for officer fired, rehired

John Derrig

John Derrig

A Marco Island police officer whose job was reinstated last week, a year after he was fired for insubordination, will undergo training sessions when he returns to the force in January.

Police and city officials are developing the training sessions for Officer John Derrig, 28, who was fired in December 2010 by then-Marco Island Police Chief Thom Carr following a drug-related arrest he made in a local restaurant.

"We're going to be doing significant amounts of training," Marco Island police Capt. Dave Baer said. "That's one of the things we're doing right now is constructing the training plan. We'll cover policies and procedures, goals, department concepts and a lot of other things."

An independent arbiter's report dated Dec. 12 found Derrig's actions reflected sloppiness and negligence rather than insubordination and repeated misconduct, the reasons cited for his dismissal. The arbiter reinstated Derrig effective Jan. 1, 2012, and gave him six months back pay.

Police internal investigators found Derrig made several mistakes during a September 2010 arrest of then-28-year-old George Channing Dascoulias, 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 Dascoulias in the bathroom of Crazy Flamingo restaurant, but those accusations were not sustained. Four charges against Dascoulias were dropped four months later.

"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.

Arbiter Thomas G. Humphries' report said the accusations weren't sufficient to prove insubordination or repeated misconduct. Administrators said Derrig often failed to turn on his dashboard camera, received an excessive amount of citizen complaints and was accused of harassment.

In failing to turn on his recording device during Dascoulias' arrest, Humphries wrote Derrig "is found to more closely approximate neglectful oversight rather than an instance of gross and wanton insubordination." Regarding Derrig's arrest report, Humphries wrote it was the result of "sloppy and inattentive work products rather than gross disregard for clear supervisory directives."

Humphries also found police administrators hadn't take the proper steps to correct Derrig's behavior before his firing.

Police officials said they spoke with Derrig numerous times about turning on his dashboard camera. Most complaints against Derrig involved harassing stops, unreasonable searches and rudeness, police officials said.

"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.

Baer declined to comment when asked about whether administrators properly disciplined Derrig.

"I don't make comments on my belief. I talk about facts," Baer said. "The report speaks for itself."

Braverman said Derrig had been unfairly singled out by his superiors before his firing.

"The prior administration had it out for Officer Derrig, and the previous chief of police treated John Derrig differently than he was treating the other people at the department," Braverman said.

When asked about Braverman's remarks, Baer said "I don't think a response to that statement is required."

"Attorneys always have the best interest of their client at heart," Baer said, "and frequently they make statements to that degree."

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 7

marco826 writes:

Oh goodie, now we have a trainee...with a gun and an apparent history of bad attitude and perhaps cover up skills.

happy6 writes:

this is a joke....we hire officers that have not had training...come on...what do they do at the police academy? this is a prime example of UNION POWER.

JohninMarco writes:

in response to happy6:

this is a joke....we hire officers that have not had training...come on...what do they do at the police academy? this is a prime example of UNION POWER.

Unless you are new here, this problem has occurred over and over. It is the Marco Island Police's job to train the officers on the policies and proceedures for this agency. The acadamy just gives the basics. Please remember the incident at Capt. Briens. Again there the judge pointed out to the city that the police dept. had no policy for the transportation of prisoners. This depts. middle management just collects their checks and is totally clueless.

Seawaller writes:

"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.

This is the only way to beat the unions in arbitration. You must dish out increasingly harsh punishments and document each incident. As far as "changing his ways", usually this doesn't happen. Once a documented trail of misbehavior and punishments is established, termination usually sticks. Unions are then not anxious to take it to arbitration, and if they do even the union backed arbitrators have a hard time reinstating the offender. The training referred to in the article should be for management.

woozygirl writes:

Your mama told me one day you will be a man, Go Johnny Go!
Training ahould be very good this time around since the police dept, I heard, has a so called training Lieutenant or Sergeant not sure earning over 80 grand who sits in the office. What a waste of money.

marco97 writes:

Keep this whack job at a desk, does it say he needs to be on patrol?

captnjimbo writes:

If they can document that he had the needed training if he breaks the rules again then certainly insubordination will stick. This is a young and impulsive cop, perhaps he will learn to constrain himself unless absolutely required to protect and serve.

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