Rowdy Rookie Fired
by Thomas MacMillan | Jan 13, 2010 8:24 am
Posted to: Legal Writes
Almost 12 weeks after a drunken “sick day” escapade, Jason Bandy handed over his badge and gun Monday night, ending his brief career as a city cop. The two sides in the case differed on a question: How much is it OK for a cop to lie?
At its monthly meeting at police headquarters on Tuesday evening, the Board of Police Commissioners voted to terminate Bandy for violating 10 different rules.
Bandy (pictured) has just a year and a half on the force. His troubles began on one fateful night in October. According to police, the 24-year-old rookie called in sick on Oct. 29, then went out to the Center Street Lounge. There he allegedly got drunk, urinated on the floor of the bathroom, and refused to leave when staff asked him to go. Bandy was later arrested and charged with breach of peace, interfering with an officer, and disorderly conduct. (Bandy’s court case has been continued until Jan. 25.)
In addition to his criminal charges, Bandy was accused of breaking 10 police rules. Chief James Lewis charged Bandy with violating rules covering conduct, interactions with civilians, false reports, and deception.
Bandy showed up at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting to answer to those charges. He wore his uniform and his sidearm. After a closed-door session lasting over an hour, the board voted unanimously to follow the recommendation of Chief Lewis and fire Bandy.
Sgt. Louis Cavaliere, the head of the police union, promised after the meeting to appeal the decision by filing for arbitration. He described Bandy as a good cop who made a mistake and deserves a second chance. He said falsely calling in sick, while wrong, shouldn’t constitute grounds for dismissal.
Bandy declined to comment.
The hearing began just after 7 p.m. Bandy immediately requested a closed hearing. The board went into executive session. After an hour and a half, Bandy, Cavaliere, Chief Lewis, a union attorney, and others came out of the meeting room while the commissioners deliberated. By 8:55 p.m., they had their decision.
In a quick unanimous vote the commissioners elected to fire Bandy.
“This hearing is concluded,” said Chairman Richard Epstein, banging his gavel.
As Bandy left the room, he shook hands with Chief Lewis. “I’m sorry,” Lewis said.
Epstein declined to comment on the hearing. He said he wants to honor Bandy’s wish that it be a closed meeting. He said only that the termination was effective immediately. “As of right now, he’s no longer a police officer.”
Police were relieving Bandy of his gun and badge “as we speak,” Chief Lewis said. He was sitting in his office, moments after the hearing.
Lewis said the decision to fire Bandy came down to “the issue of honesty.”
“He called in sick,” Lewis said. “Was he really sick?” A detective at the Center Street Lounge had asked Bandy if he was a cop, and he said no, Lewis said. Bandy’s lies demonstrate a lack of honesty, the chief said.
A cop must be seen as trustworthy by the public, Lewis said. “Citizens expect him to testify in the future.”
“I feel terrible for the kid,” Lewis said. “But not everyone is suited to be a police officer.”
Union Chief Vows To FIght On
“We’re going to file for arbitration,” said Sgt. Cavaliere (pictured), when contacted after the meeting.
He called Bandy a good cop “worth saving.” It was the first time Bandy was ever in trouble, Cavaliere said. “Everyone deserves a second chance.”
Bandy had offered to serve a “lengthy suspension” and to abide by a “last chance” arrangement under which he would have been fired immediately for any rule violations in the next two years, Cavaliere said. But the board turned him down.
“They went for the jugular,” Cavaliere said. Termination is an inappropriate punishment for the charges against Bandy, he said. Bandy “didn’t hit anyone, he didn’t strangle anyone.”
Cavaliere took issue with Lewis’ argument that Bandy had to be fired because he was dishonest. “The chief is wrong,” Cavaliere said.
“We’ve had officers routinely book off sick” when they aren’t, he said. “He made it sound like this is a capital punishment ... People book off sick all the time.” Cavaliere acknowledged that calling in sick when you’re not is not the right thing to do. But it’s common, and tolerated, he claimed
“It happens in every workplace in the United States,” Cavaliere said. “It should not be used as a firable offense.”
Cavaliere said Chief Lewis had characterized Bandy’s “sick day” as a “violation of the public trust.” Cavaliere called that “ridiculous.”
The union head said he is looking forward to a “fair and independent panel” hearing Bandy’s case in arbitration. The union will show that Bandy has been “treated disparately compared to other cases,” Cavaliere said.
That process could take six months or a year, he said.
Cavaliere also objected to another line of argument allegedly pursued by the chief. He said Chief Lewis brought up the fact that Bandy has contacted the police department’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for counseling. Cavaliere said Lewis told the commissioners he doesn’t want officers who need to be counseled. That’s a bad precedent to set, Cavaliere said.
The union head said he’s now going to have to encourage union members not to tell EAP if they need counseling because of a divorce or any other kind of personal problem. He said he’s going to tell officers to “go to their own clinician and not tell anyone.” Based on the chief’s alleged statements in the meeting, if officers tell the department they have problems in their life, that could become grounds for dismissal, Cavaliere said.
Reached on Wednesday, Chief Lewis said that Cavaliere’s statements were “absolutely untrue.” Lewis said he never brought up EAP at the meeting and he never said that anyone should not use EAP.
“We encourage officers to seek counseling!” Lewis said. “We pay for it!”
Lewis said that it was “improper” for Cavaliere to talk about what happens in a closed session and to talk about who may or may not be making use of EAP.
Tags: Jason Bandy, James Lewis
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Stealing time from your employer is not “in every workplace.” It is not tolerated in many places.
How low can you set the bar, Cavaliere?
Don’t you see how by your attitude and statements that you further shape the public’s view that unions are harbingers of laziness, deceit, and dishonorable conduct?
Are there any decent and honorable cops out there that care to refute this kind of absurd protectionism?
By his decision to lie about calling in sick (presumably when he wasn’t yet drunk) and his subsequent thuggish actions, this cop did damage to the entire force. Thankfully for all the other police officers in New Haven, those that honor the badge by their service, our chief believes in accountability.
If the kid has character and can learn from his mistake, he will recover. I hope that he does.
For the rest of the force, maybe you should re-examine how your representatives shape public opinion about all of you.
For every lousy cop like this one there are many more examples of cops who respect the badge on and off duty. Bandy rightly lost the privilege to show he could be the latter. In the meantime, kudos to the two officers injured when responding to a domestic yesterday at Kensington and Edgewood. Cops never really know what they’re going to walk into when they’re on duty. In the more difficult situations, the dept.—and the community—doesn’t need a hothead like Bandy.
I feel sorry for the guy, but I believe it was the right decision. Police officers are entrusted with so much responsibility and power, that a second chance was not warranted in this case.
As for the Union Chief, with all due respect, many workplaces do not tolerate sick leave abuse. I think perhaps he should reevaluate what the standards of the badge are.
I would think Cavaliere would be embarassed by and calling for this officer to be fired too, instead of excusing his thuggish behavior. I think this episode gave us a good look at what this officer’s personality is really like, and we are all better off for his no longer having a gun and a badge.
How on earth are we supposed to believe ... is “a good cop” who should have authority over the rest of us?
What an entitled bunch of bullies.
posted by: con serned on January 13, 2010 11:24am
How come this warrants press coverage, yet the arrest of a firefighter got nothing?
I can see Cavaliere’s point—if the former officer was willing to take extraordinary steps to regain the public & his department’s trust, it may be worth it.
We’ve all made mistakes. He’s a young man & I’m sure he can learn from this and improve.
With that being said, I understand the Chief’s position, and think he did the right thing. I just feel badly that this guy won’t get a second chance.
I think he should have the opportunity to apply again down the road—if this experience changed him & he’s matured, he’d make a good cop.
He can clean up his act, improve his attitude and carry on with his life working for someone else. Time to move on.
I think focusing on the abuse of sick days is silly. Bandy used his position of power, his badge, to manipulate the bar staff—this is what was so reprehensible to the community about this incident.
If true, this: “Cavaliere said Lewis told the commissioners he doesn’t want officers who need to be counseled” disturbs me even more than Bandy’s behavior.
posted by: Bruce on January 13, 2010 12:42pm
I’m surprised that they are focusing only on the sick day. He used his badge in an attempt to get away with illegal behavior. What if he stole something and then flashed his badge? Seems like a much more serious offense in my book. Isn’t there a rule against abuse of power?
It is great to see the department taking a hard line on discipline with it’s officers. Gross derelictions of duty should be dealt with with a swift hand. I believe in second chances, but police officers should be held to a higher standard.
If the chief said he didn’t want a cop that needed counseling, or something along that line, that is INDEED a HORRIBLE precedent. Cops probably need counseling more than most other segments of the population, regardless of how “put together” they might be. The fact is it is one of the most stressful and difficult jobs to deal with psychologically. It seems that Brandy was trying to make real adjustments to reintegrate and maybe there should be some wiggle room for him.
Bottom line: if the Chief belittled counseling or made it seem that a cop under counseling was not desirable, he did a tacit disservice to his own force, and the public that they serve.
On one hand, I hope Bandy gets help. He obvious has some serious issues and these will manifest themselves in another way at some point in this man’s life. I sincerely hope his friends and family support him, not enable him, in these days and months to follow.
On the other hand, this was a good decision by the Chief and Board of Police Commission. The lying is one thing, the abuse of power by use of his badge is what is more disturbing. This was an egregious abuse of police power by an officer.
In general Dearington and the State Attorney Office are unwilling to prosecute police officers who abuse their power unless the illegal behavior is so egregious. For example, the officer who was speeding killed those 2 young people.
Why? Because there is an inherit conflict of interest with the prosecutor and the police. The prosecutors need good relationship with the police in order to do their work.
Unfortunately, the Connecticut State Police is still in no position to police town/city departments, let alone their own. Recent scandals, like Madison PD and East Haven PD, should make us all think more about policing the police, so that we can really have confidence in them.
he should have called me. i would have entered him an an inpatient alcohol program, had his probationary status as police officer extended, and he could have kept his gig. oh well, his bad.
I would like to see this young man get some help, his age should not be a factor. This job does mature you, some of the things I saw when I was his age kept me up at night sometimes.
I do disagree with the general public on the booking off issue though, I did book off on countless occasions , not to drink, but to be with my children on there birthdays, and certain holidays. It’s the nature of the job sometimes, you miss alot when there are no holidays off and as I was told as a rookie, and what I passed on, family comes first.
I absolutely believe the Chief’s word on what was said in the meeting, personally.
Retired, I agree with you that the booking off issue is not the real issue. I think the real issue for the Chief was the officer using his badge to control the situation, which is a gross misuse of his power and responsibility. I think the nature of the American workplace/ethic is such that you need to be able to use sick days/etc to do personal things at times, and there is nothing wrong with that.
I definitely think he should get some counseling, and should be allowed to reapply to the force in a few years, when he’s mellowed/matured enough to handle the responsibility.
As someone else pointed out, there are many GREAT cops who bring a lot of pride to the uniform. It’s a hard job, no one doubts that, but I think this guy just may not be ready for how hard it really is. Give him 2 years, some counsel, and this experience together may make him into one of those great cops.
I will refrain from adding comments over the issue at hand, however I will comment on “Paul’s” statement calling Police “Entitled bunch of bullies” although Im sure your opinion of the case at hand is appreciated (by who I dont know)Does not “Entitle” you to label an entire Police Department or a profession as whole. I dont know if it’s a personal experience or you just put too much merit into organized media however unless you know (and im guessing you found out long ago you dont have the fortitude to do this job)what we officers do for citizens and what we endure than maybe you should just be quiet or even responsible in how you label us. The officers of New HAven to me are among the bravest and efficient officers ive had the pleasure of knowing. Nothing and No one is perfect everytime for everything. Were people and have faults just like every other profession out there. Just because your not involved in this work and are outside looking in doesnt “Entitle” you to your labeling of it…and that folks is only MY opinion. ta da!
It’s no wonder police under Cavaliere’s protection feel above the law. It was the officer’s first incident. well how many incidents of unlawful behavior is acceptable with a little over a year on the job? How many lives does he get to destroy with lies in a police report? How many rules does he get to break? Cavaliere seems to be stuck on one; minimizing the importance of honesty and trust. In addition if an officer needs to be in counseling after so little time on the force then I question how he ever made it on the force in the first place. How effective is the psychological? Hopefully justice will remain just and the union will not be allowed to put this “kid” back on the force in New Haven. It’s refreshing to hear that Cavaliere believes in the concept of second chances.
You know, you read the story and think “what a stupid punk” and then you see the picture of this young man who’s just realized he’s really f’d up his life and you remember being 24 (i’m 41) and the stupid things you got away with and the things you didn’t that really hurt you.
Its probably best for us that he was fired, but i can’t throw the first, second or fiftieth stone. Maybe he can get a job as a bouncer, i hear synergy is looking for one.
hey con cerned, funny thing is i emailed the independent about that last week (to look into it) and apparentley they either love tinney because he makes a story or they disregarded or never got my email.
Just Imagine if this happened in East Haven!!!!
The Protests & Marches that would be going on.
Thank god it happened in New Haven at a Bar, Not East Haven near a bakery.
So its ok to lie about sick time? Is it also ok if a supervisor refuses to recognize and pay OT to a cop who worked an hour past his shift? Whats the difference?
Remember, this is a public sector UNION contract, in which every little broken obligation on the part of police management is used by guys like Cavaliere as a club with which to extract outrageous concessions or benefits during the next contract negotiation. Or alternatively they just take it to an arbitration to a board that is likely stacked with pro-labor sympathizers.
posted by: Doug on January 13, 2010 8:16pm
Nice job, Thomas. Photo is top notch as well!
Absolutely, it’s okay to call in sick for your family, these cops work on Holidays and off hours, I personally , don’t see a problem with calling in on special occasions like Retired said, for kids birthdays, and such.
Would you put others in front of your family, be real and get off your soap box.
You have to actually read my comment. I said that I agree with retired that “That was not the real issue” and that I personally think sick time should be flexible: I did not say it’s “OK” to lie, so your attempt to equate it to someone withholding honestly earned pay is a bit off.
A cop urinates on a floor, tells bouncers they can’t eject him because he’s a cop, then lies to other cops about his misuse of the power? I suspect that weighed more heavily on everyone’s mind then how he used his sick day. That’s what I said, and that’s what I think.
Steever and Morris Cove,
I am not arguing against flexibility between an employer and employee. If you are a good worker and you ask your manager for time to go to your kid’s baseball game or take your mother-in-law to the doctor, that’s great. But to have earned that flexibility, you need to be considered a good employee.
But when you see public employees take their coffee break while there is a line out of the door (because their contract allows it and unions stewards encourage them to do that), or when a supervisor doesn’t pick up a shovel because “I’d get in trouble with the union”, or teachers refuse to attend to a chaotic lunch room because “that’s not my job” - where is the professional flexibility then?
Flexibility goes both ways. One party shouldn’t have to stick to the letter of the contract while the other gets flexibility.
As for what the chief is hanging this kid on, maybe the lie isn’t the most outrageous behavior in this case but it may be legally the clearest violation of his duties.
Your right about the chief using the book off, as a way to terminate. What I want you and others to understand is when you work 4 to 12, and see your kids only on your days off, or in passing it’s tough. You can’t compare it with the normal work force or with teachers because of the hours and days you sacrifice.
So if your kid has a ball game, or birthday party, I say whats the harm, would you truthfully give up these moments? I never did, and could care less what the public thinks.
Retired, you must have been one of those guys forced to take the job right?
I’m pretty sure when you took the job you knew it included working weekends, holidays and odd hours, that’s actually one of the questions during the hiring process.
Sounds like you were also one of those cops who would book off on the holidays to be with YOUR family while some other poor cop on the previous shift (who probably had a family also) got held over to work your shift. I’m glad you are retired and I’m sure the other cops you worked with and the public are too.
“Youthful indiscretion” (vel sim.) might excuse a multitude of sins, but this ain’t one of ‘em.
If (to invoke another adage) “boys will be boys,” the boy should probably grow up before being given a badge and gun.
Again, perhaps there is no harm if you are otherwise a good cop.
But then why does Cavaliere have hire a bunch of lawyers to write a labor contract governing everyone’s behavior if you don’t think it needs to be adhered to?
I work a lot as well. To Bunker’s point: This is the life we have chosen. Sacrifices are part of life. But it seems to me that if you as a cop require such rigid contractual commitments from your employer, then its hypocritical at the very least to violate the work rules that you through your union signed up for.
Streever, I agree. What irritates me the most is that this guy misused his “power” as a cop. That is why he deserve to be fired. Just like the guy in Milford who was fired for speeding in his cop car…. Cops are not above the law and should not be treated as such.
“We’ve had officers routinely book off sick”
This is BS. I work evenings, nights, and weekends, holidays. I’ve never taken a sick day for a game, or to spend time with my family. WTF? This is why I hate unions.
I pay ridiculous taxes for this crap?!
To answer your question, when i came on the job I was single and did not have children, but I did get married and had three wonderful children. I wont apologize for spending time with my family, and if you think that is selfish well thats to bad.
I was a good cop and people who worked with me in patrol and the bureau could vouch, a person like you could never understand the many sacrifices one gives, but family should never have to.