Why are we not surprised?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why are we not surprised?

Suspended (currently with pay) Westhampton Beach Police Officer Michael Bruetsch was scheduled to resume his disciplinary hearing this morning at Village Hall on eight charges stemming from the Suffolk County Police In­ternal Affairs report of October 2009.

Wanna hazard a guess as to who was a con­spicuous "no show?"

That's right... Bruetsch, according to his attorney William Keahon, was too ill to even get out of bed this morning to participate in his defense before Hearing Officer Stephen Bluth against:

"...the allegations of three counts of con­duct unbecoming and five counts of ly­ing/making a false statement."

Not that it matters in the overall strategy to keep Bruetsch employed long enough that he can qualify for retirement before being fired, but the next hearing date has not been set.


1. Bob Schunk said...

Did he call in sick?

Since he's suspended (with full pay and benefits!) I'm not certain that he has to.

This is thoroughly outrageous behavior, all at taxpayer expense! I'm researching possibly applicable disciplinary actions: §8-804 of New York State Village Law, §75 CSEA and even NYS Education law §3020-a to see if there isn't something that will stop the clock running on his time accrual for retirement purposes, 'cause that's all this is, a delaying action.

One of the problems, of course, is that if the municipality wants to stop that clock running during protracted Disciplinary Hearings due to "foot-dragging" by the employee, there has to be a separate hearing to determine whether the employee is intentionally delaying the process!
– Dean

2. Chris said...

A police officer in the New York State Retirement System vests in 5 years. That means after 5 years of service the pension is secure for life. This is Law. Even if he gets fired he gets his pension at 55 years of age. If the police officer has requested a private vs. a public hearing then your posts on this Blog with his name are in violation of section 50a of the New York State Civil Rights Law. So expect a lawsuit with you named personally if it is a private hearing. If it's a public hearing then keep blogging.

The Village contractually can only use section 75 of the New York State Civil Service Law to discipline their officers. Both Town Law and Village Law existed before Civil Service Law that was enacted in 1958. It was designed to treat all Civil Service Employees Equally. Now you have small Villages and small Towns disciplining employees with lopsided standards and Laws that should have been repealed.

A Hearing Officer is like a school principle. Those who can't do teach; those who can't teach administrate. A Hearing Officer is not a Judge, he is not a Justice, he is not an Administrative Law Judge and he is not an Arbitrator. A Hearing Officer is a political puppet paid for by the Village. The selection of the Hearing Officer is done by the Village with no opportunity or mechanism to vet his selection by the defense. It would be like Linda Kabot being arrested for DWI in Westhampton Beach and the Jury being comprised of all Southampton Town Police Officers. In this court she would be guilty. The Hearing Officer can only get rehired if he finds his clients employees guilty.

As for the foot-dragging, let me say the facts in the Blog are inaccurate. Under Civil Service Law if a Respondent delays the proceeding he can be suspended for an additional 30 days. Because there are so many Attorneys involved you have competing calendars. Delays are typically on both sides of the process. If you are excited about a police officer being prosecuted under this system and are angry it's going too slow then you think he is guilty already. Linda Kabot's trail was delayed and it worked in her advantage and ultimately proved her innocent of DWI. So take some comfort in the fact it's not your life the Village of Westhampton Beach is unraveling.

Thank you for your insights into this matter, Chris... I can certainly understand your own jaded view of the process, and from my own distant vantage point, I think you were probably jobbed.

Yes, a police officer "vests in 5 years," but upon information and belief, it is to the officer's financial advantage to accrue a greater amount of time before retiring or otherwise leaving.

I don't believe my "facts [to be]inaccurate," as I spent some time speaking with those knowledgable about such matters.

O, and you should be aware that the names of the officers involved in these disciplinary hearings are a matter of public record, and have been for 17 months.

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