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Chapel Hill panel: Fired police officer should be reinstated

Posted March 12, 2013

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— A former Chapel Hill police officer who lost his job last year for violating the department sick leave policy should be reinstated with full pay, according to a recommendation by the town's Personnel Appeals Committee.

Cpl. Chris King was fired in August for using sick leave for a family vacation, but the five-member panel said in a memo to Town Manager Roger Stancil that the termination wasn't an appropriate punishment.

A 14-year veteran of the Chapel Hill Police Department, King admitted during a hearing last month that he violated policy but contended that he was punished too harshly. He added that he told his supervisors ahead of time that he was going to Florida but would be calling in sick.

King's supervisors recommended that he be suspended for a day or two, but Chief Chris Blue decided instead to fire him, saying he put his credibility as an officer in jeopardy.

At last month's hearing, a town attorney said King's actions were egregious enough to warrant termination.

The appeals committee disagreed.

It found that King's supervisor "failed to properly advise" him "of the potential consequences of 'calling out' sick" and that, as a result, King was misled to believe it was acceptable.

The committee also found that officers taking sick leave for personal reasons wasn't uncommon and that the policy "has not been so strictly enforced in the past."

It also noted that King had no performance issues or other disciplinary actions against him during his career.

"After considering all the testimony and mitigating facts of this case, the committee does not believe the violation is so egregious that termination is the appropriate action," the memo stated.

It concluded by recommending a lesser punishment but did not say what it should be.

46 Comments

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  • wcnc Mar 14, 2013

    "So, he committed fraud and was fired now he has his job back?"

    How is it fraud? He informed his supervisors and they said nothing. He should have had a day or 2 of suspension and a written warning for his file.

    I guess none of you have ever taken sick leave when you weren't sick?

  • n2funwithu Mar 14, 2013

    So, he committed fraud and was fired now he has his job back? Yes fraud, obtaining property (money) by false pretense. Which is a felony...

  • NCLawdog173 Mar 13, 2013

    So that the uninformed can quit sounding so stupid spewing their opinions, take it from someone who knows the story. He took one day of sick time and told the supervisor upfront he was going to do it. So, go ahead and cross him on it on the stand, he can say he didn't lie. As for the PTO idea, it doesn't matter if it's PTO or Vacation or Sick time, there can onl be so many officers off at one time. PTO wouldn't have chaged the scenario. Before you THINK you know what you're talking about and throwing out your all knowing resolutions/judgments, actually know.

  • kodac31 Mar 13, 2013

    WRAL---Glad to see that certain Law Enforcement Officer's, particularly with the State, who had Impeccable Records with ZERO prior disciplinary records, are finally being afforded that
    "NOTEWORTHY" indication...hence it should indeed career a great weight in any pending "allegation" case. To bad you've waited so long to finally come around. There's been enough Law Enforcement Officer's careers destroyed thanks mainly to media scrutiny and over kill sensationalism!!!! Until you put yourself in the shoes of a LEO, then kindly have some respect!

  • mpheels Mar 13, 2013

    "For "family time" is OK, but single people have to stay and work. That's discrimination."

    Family time isn't just for spouse and kids. I have used sick leave to help my mom when my step-dad was critically ill. My employer defines family as spouse, child, sibling, parent, or grandparent and includes biologic, adoptive, and step relationships, as well as any person who is socially "treated as" one of the above family relations (i.e. a very dear family friend who was like a grandfather to me died, and I was allowed to use sick leave to attend his funeral).

  • Scubagirl Mar 13, 2013

    so lets see, someone responded to my post but now it's gone. You guys crack me up with your pompousness. I, like you all, am entitled to my opinion whether you agree with it or not! My opinions are my own-don't like em, fine respond to them but unless it's against TOS why flag for abuse. That would be your OWN insecurities coming out.

  • tarheelfan3 Mar 13, 2013

    It is called work-life balance. How many times did he leave his family unprotected (e.g. called in to work during an ice storm, leaving his family without electricity) so that he could patrol Chapel Hill and protect the folks that live there? Law enforcement is a tough profession, particularly on families. Traditionally, law enforcement has one of the higest divorce rates of any profession. I agree that we should value a job, but the job should value us in return. Don't judge him for wanting to spend time with his family, particuarly in light of the sacrifices he has made for the job over his 14 years of service. Before you criticize him, slip on the mocassins and walk a mile. That is unless his shoes are too big for you to fill.

  • tarheelfan3 Mar 13, 2013

    It is my understanding that he had requested the time off well in advance - when most people have to pay for vavcations - and his supervisor failed to record his request. Once it came time for his vacation, the maximum number of officers were already in the vacation book to be off. He was faced with either cancelling vacation and losing the money he had already spent for the trip (substantial, I imagine for a week in Florida) or "calling in sick." He told the supervisor that since the leave was not posted as it should have been that he would have to call in sick to not lose his vacation. I have done that for my subordinates to get around bad policy. If three people needed off for legitimate reasons and that put me below the minimum staffing levels, I would knowingly allow an officer to call out sick. I made sure the rest of the employees knew it was going to happen so they would all show up ready to work, knowing that I would do the same for them if they needed it. It is called

  • Terkel Mar 13, 2013

    "Taking advantage of an outdated policy for family time is a very common practice and not evil."

    For "family time" is OK, but single people have to stay and work. That's discrimination.

  • Terkel Mar 13, 2013

    "It is still your time to use if you have it."

    It's your employer's job and your employer's time (off). Do you get paid as agreed? Then keep your end of the contract too.

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