2 Ex-Troopers Fight to Regain Jobs
Posted December 12, 2007 9:11 p.m. EST
Updated December 13, 2007 7:05 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Two former state Highway Patrol troopers fired for misconduct took steps this week in the fight to get their jobs back.
Trooper Monty Poarch, who was fired in 2003 for having sex in his patrol car and at his trooper station, asked the State Personnel Commission to reinstate him.
An administrative law judge ordered the Highway Patrol in September to reinstate Poarch, now a lieutenant with the sheriff's department in Caldwell County, and provide him with back pay. The judge ruled that the patrol was inconsistent in its discipline of trooper misconduct, so firing Poarch for egregious conduct was unwarranted.
The Highway Patrol disagreed with the judge's ruling, sending the case to the Personnel Commission. There was no word on when a decision would be made.
Meanwhile, Sgt. Charles Jones filed suit against the state, alleging that procedures were violated when he was fired in September.
Jones coordinated K-9 training for the Highway Patrol, and a fellow patrolman turned over a cell phone video of Jones using allegedly abusive training techniques with his police dog, Ricoh.
Court documents described the incident, which began when Ricoh refused to release a chew reward, as Jones tying the dog's leash to a high railing so that only his hind legs touched the ground, then kicking the dog four times to leave the animal dangling its leash and collar.
In his lawsuit, Jones cites training techniques the general public might not understand.
Tracy Bowling, who trains bloodhounds for the Wake County Sheriff's Office, declined to judge Jones without knowing all the facts but said there is a difference between training and protecting against attack by a K-9.
"Anything like choking a dog out or stringing him up and pulling him up to keep him away from you, these are all defensive tactics," Bowling said. "I don't think anything we would do in the training of police dogs or personal pets or anything else the average person would view as inhumane or cruel to the dog."
After the incident came to light, Highway Patrol Commander Col. W. Fletcher Clay ordered a complete review of the force's K-9 program.
Jones' suit alleges he was fired without just cause – "higher powers" ordered Crime Control and Public Safety Secretary Bryan Beatty to fire him – and that proper procedures weren't followed.
He claims he was unfairly singled out because the Highway Patrol was receiving unwanted attention for trooper misconduct and because of the arrest of pro football player Michael Vick on dog fighting charges.
"Termination is not only outrageous, but obviously the wrong call here and was done in a manner that ignored the rule of law," said John Midgette, executive director of the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association.