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Archive for Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ex-officer awaits grievance process resolution

Former Lawrence Police Sgt. Michael Monroe filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court alleging racial discrimination and wrongful termination.

Former Lawrence Police Sgt. Michael Monroe filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court alleging racial discrimination and wrongful termination.

July 3, 2012

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A former Lawrence police sergeant who lost his position in March related to a ticket-fixing investigation said Tuesday he was still awaiting completion of the city’s grievance process.

Michael Monroe said Tuesday he had participated in a recent hearing before a city grievance review board related to his March firing. He said the process is now in “stage four” of the city’s employee grievance process, which, according to the city’s employee handbook, is an appeal to City Manager David Corliss about the review board’s findings.

“We still have some time before we have a final resolution,” said Monroe, who declined further comment about the proceedings.

Monroe did not reveal the review board’s decision or say whether he or Police Chief Tarik Khatib was appealing the board’s decision to Corliss.

City Attorney Toni Wheeler said Tuesday she could not comment on Monroe’s case because it was a personnel matter.

Officials on March 22 confirmed that Monroe, a police officer since 1991, was no longer employed with the city. That was the same day Khatib said an officer previously suspended related to the ticket-fixing investigation was no longer a city employee, although the city didn’t identify Monroe as the officer.

Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said later in March he reviewed court cases that former Sgt. Matt Sarna, who resigned in February, and Monroe were involved in after the city provided him their names in connection with the city’s personnel investigation.

City officials have said the investigation revealed six speeding tickets were dismissed for a former Kansas Athletics official who now is in prison as part of the broader Kansas University athletic-tickets-for-cash scandal.

The day Sarna resigned, Khatib in a statement said the investigation revealed an officer had a long-term friendship dating to the late 1990s or early 2000s with the Kansas Athletics employee and received free or discounted KU tickets over a period of several years. At some point the athletics employee asked for help dismissing six speeding tickets he received from 2000 to 2009 or was about to receive. Khatib also said that the first officer, later identified by prosecutors as Sarna, may have asked a second officer two or three times for assistance in fixing the citations and that the second officer, later identified by prosecutors as Monroe, might have also received KU tickets through the first officer.

Federal prosecutors and Branson, in state court, did not file charges against Sarna or Monroe, saying the timing and circumstances of the receipt of the athletics tickets could not be directly linked to specific requests for fixing traffic tickets. Khatib did say conduct outlined in the internal investigation violated the city’s gratuity and solicitation policies.

According to state licensing records for law enforcement officers, Monroe was terminated March 22 from his employment with the department.

The city’s employee handbook lays out a five-step grievance procedure. In step three, employees or former employees who are not satisfied with a written reply to their grievance can appeal to a review board. Instead of a standing city board, the grievance review board is selected more like a jury.

It includes one city department director outside the department involved chosen from a rotating list; another separate supervisory employee chosen randomly from city payroll records; a nonsupervisory employee also chosen randomly; and a member of the employee relations council also chosen randomly and also outside the department involved in the hearing.

The final member of the board is a nonsupervisory employee from the division involved. This employee comes from a pool of five names randomly selected, and each side has a chance to strike two names until one person remains.

The hearing involves presentations from each side, including calling of witnesses, with the opportunity of the other side to ask questions.

Under step four, one side can appeal the board’s decision to Corliss, the city manager, who must then confer with the two sides and render a decision on the appeal within seven days after that hearing.

In step five, on all cases appealed to him, Corliss is required to submit copies of all grievance forms, supporting data and findings to the Lawrence City Commission. The commission can only determine whether the issue involved is one of policy and could alter policies and perhaps make them retroactive to the specific case.

But the commission cannot hold its own grievance hearing involving the parties.

Comments

psheaf2 2 years, 5 months ago

Sgt. Mike Monroe, I am so proud of you for standing up for the truth. You didn't walk away, you didn't resign, how could u when you didn't do anything wrong? Instead, they fired a man that was standing up for his integrity and still is standing on that integrity. Thoughts and prayers are with you through this process.

Jayhawk1958 2 years, 5 months ago

Didn't do anything wrong? How can you say that otherwise? Did he or did he not participate in the crime?

MarcoPogo 2 years, 5 months ago

I think we're going to find out that the grievance committee cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Lawrenceks 2 years, 5 months ago

There was no crime! Sgt MIke Monroe is a stand up guy!

roadrunner 2 years, 5 months ago

Well, it means he did not participate In the "crime". That would be why you make them fire you. He didn't resign, he was fired. Innocent people don't resign. I hope he wins the grievance!!!!

drillsgt 2 years, 5 months ago

Yes he did commit a crime..you take a oath..and you know what's right and wrong..he did wrong and knows he did.. He is a nice guy but he did wrong..once you lose your focus on why you joined the force, you can't think your bigger than the law..officer Monroe is trying to clear his name ..but he did wrong ..and as a officer ..your held to higher standards..wish you luck mike..

Carol Bowen 2 years, 5 months ago

Like I said last spring, this is a personnel issue and there is a process.

msezdsit 2 years, 5 months ago

If he did participate in the ticket scandal than move on. If not, the people who implicated him should move on.

equalaccessprivacy 2 years, 5 months ago

Due process provides an important key to a fair workplace and to democracy itself. Grievance processes play a core role here, and when used correctly they can lead to win-win situations. Clearly the city is ahead of KU on this score. KU ( the incompetent HR and dishonest university counsel) would seemingly much rather vindictively try to frame someone merely asking them to follow the law with a false crime than think twice about issues like wrongful termination, civil rights issues, and giving someone access to a fair grievance process.

Thanks to my efforts and the unspeakable suffering and injustices I underwent in Lawrence KU had to rewrite part of their unfair discrimination complaint and grievance procedures, but with the current crooked HR leadership and university counsel I seriously doubt anything has improved. It's pathetic that supposed professional staff in places like KS and MO would uphold the ingrained culture of street harassment that exists in the backwoods and cruelly blame the victims of this bullying and unwanted intrusion for standing up for themselves. People deserve to feel safe on the streets. No one should be forced to avoid public space due to the loads of aggressive, politically unaware bigots who have all been trained to enact the same ignorant,intrusive script that singles out some people for different treatment and special harassment in public.

I guess ticket-fixing is even more criminal, but at least victims are getting left holding the bag and having their lives ruined.

psheaf2 2 years, 5 months ago

Just sit back and wait. The truth will prevail.

lawslady 2 years, 5 months ago

Althought not a gambler, I am willing to bet that anyone who knows Sgt Monroe personally did not ever believe any claims that he was dishonest in any way. A more "stand-up" person is hard to find. I can believe that he received gfits from friends (like any other human on earth). And I can believe that (like any other human on earth) he did favors for friends when he could and as long as the favor was/is legal. But to suspect that he would ever take any kind of bribe to look the other way boggles the mind. He is the guy who would have been blowing the whistle on corruption, not the other way around. I hope & pray that his good name is restored and that he soon can resume his devoted service to the community in which he was raised.

shortone 2 years, 5 months ago

Khatib did say conduct outlined in the internal investigation violated the city’s gratuity and solicitation policies.

I think this says it all..............

James Minor 2 years, 5 months ago

If the internal investigation "says it all" then why the grievance process?? Apparently, there are variations in the policy. Maybe past issues with other officers should be taken into account to insure fairness?? Maybe the tolerance requirement needs to be revisited? Could it be the new police chief appears to be using this officer to show he is the big dog???

pace 2 years, 5 months ago

If he took tickets to fix tickets, it was clearly against policy.

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