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  • No 1st ammendment for police?

    Suffolk cop docked pay for criticizing commissioner
    September 1, 2009 By REID J. EPSTEIN [email protected]

    A Suffolk police officer and Iraq War veteran who criticized Commissioner Richard Dormer at a public meeting has been docked five days pay for his comments.

    Officer Mike Simonelli, 37, who said he is set to deploy to Afghanistan with his Army Reserve unit, compared Dormer - during testimony before the Legislature's Public Safety Committee - to a turncoat military commander who had defected to the Iraqi side.

    "That commander who completely decimated the morale of an entire battalion in a combat environment is a great comparison to Commissioner Dormer and what he's doing to the Suffolk County Police Department," Simonelli said July 30 in the public comment portion of the meeting, which he attended while off-duty.

    At the meeting, lawmakers and Dormer were discussing whether budget concerns caused the recent delay in a homicide detective reporting to a Brentwood murder scene while the victim lay in the street.

    Simonelli, a Third Precinct officer with the department for nine years, said in an interview Tuesday that his Aug. 21 disciplinary letter stated he "embarrassed, ridiculed and degraded" Dormer in his comments.

    Dormer did not respond to requests for comment. His spokesman, Tim Motz, issued this statement: "If this was a private in the U.S. Army who said these things against a general, he would be court-martialed before he walked out the meeting room door."

    Eric Durr, a spokesman for the New York State National Guard, said while the military generally permits respectful dissent, criticism deemed wantonly disrespectful or that impeaches a superior's character could result in discipline that typically falls short of a court-martial.

    Dan Aug, a spokesman for County Executive Steve Levy, called the punishment "an internal police matter."

    Simonelli was punished for "conduct unbecoming" a police officer. The specific rule violation he is accused of encompasses "any other violation which, in the opinion of the commanding officer and subject to the approval by the next higher command, is appropriate for command discipline procedure."

    The Suffolk Police Benevolent Association will challenge Simonelli's discipline, union vice president Noel DiGerolamo said Tuesday.

    "This individual who sacrifices so much for others to protect their rights is having his rights stripped by what appears to be nothing more than an abusive administration," he said.

    The union's challenge to the discipline will go before a hearing officer appointed by Dormer, DiGerolamo said.

    In 2004, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a proclamation honoring Simonelli's Iraq service. Reached at his St. James home, Simonelli called his punishment "disgraceful."

    "When I deployed to Iraq in 2003 I told people I had the greatest job in the world," he said. "Now I'm leaving for Afghanistan with an entirely different perspective."

    Legis. Jack Eddington (WF-Medford), the Public Safety Committee chairman, said the department cannot punish officers for what they say while off duty. "Is this a 24-7 job?" he said. "Because if it is, then they're underpaid."

    With Martin Evans
    "The wicked flee when no man pursueth
    but the righteous are bold as a lion"

    Proverbs 28:1, inscription beneath NLEOM lion.sigpic

  • #2
    There are much worse things I wish I could say in public commissioner meetings...
    Better to be tried by 12 then carried by 6.

    Comment


    • #3
      The National Guard Spokesman"s statement, while true, does not apply in the situation mentioned. This is a Police Officer's assessment of the conduct of a public official. It was made while the Officer was in off-duty status, at a public forum, which he had a right to attend. I'm not going to pass judgement on the propriety of his statement, and it's possible it violated Department policy. Conduct Unbecoming an Officer, can cover a broad range of allegedly improper conduct. This will be for a hearing to determine.

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      • #4
        Suffolk County is a large county (in area and population) in Ny with real small-town political vindictiveness.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Dinosaur32 View Post
          Suffolk County is a large county (in area and population) in Ny with real small-town political vindictiveness.
          You got that right...the Commish was a carreer cop making it all the way to Chief before retiring, then coming back as commish many years later. As a former beat cop, he should have a little thicker skin.
          "The wicked flee when no man pursueth
          but the righteous are bold as a lion"

          Proverbs 28:1, inscription beneath NLEOM lion.sigpic

          Comment


          • #6
            The first amendment protects you from punishment by the government for speaking an unpopular or inflammatory opinion. It does not shield you from punishment by your employer for speaking out with an unpopular opinion. Whether or not he SHOULD have been disciplined is a separate issue, but there is no "stripping of rights" here. He wasn't thrown in jail for stating his opinion, his employer disciplined him for statements which could be construed. as insubordination, conduct unbecoming an officer, and probably several other things
            Originally posted by K40
            To me, open carry is the equivalent of the couple making out and groping each other at the food court in the mall. Yeah, they are probably legal, as long as they don't start getting undressed. But they are still social retards.
            ‎"You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don't have time to think about how many's with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that's about to set down on him." - Rooster Cogburn

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            • #7
              does that mean he'll only make $120,000 this year?
              “Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.” - Robert F. Kennedy.

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