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."