Another detail emerges from the Couture firing. While awaiting the eventual hearing Couture was left as road supervisor for 10 months. From the Advocate:
Police union attorney Richard Gudis said he gave the grievance to police Chief Harry Rilling shortly after the decision was made Tuesday afternoon.
Rilling said he is not authorized to overrule the trial board’s decision to fire Couture.
Gudis said he forwarded the grievance, which said Couture was fired without just cause, to the state Board of Mediation and Arbitration Wednesday morning.
Couture was fired for telling former police Lt. Thomas Cummings on Oct. 26 that Cummings was under investigation by Westport police for allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old Weston boy.
The trial board decided Couture’s actions were unbecoming an officer and imparted confidential department business to someone not entitled to receive it.
At the time, Couture commanded the Youth Bureau, which investigates crimes committed by and on young people.
Last year, Couture, 44, earned $116,860 in salary and overtime pay, according to City Hall records. His current salary was $77,621.
The police union contract stipulates that the employee must be 48 years old to begin collecting a pension. Couture won’t be eligible to collect until July 2012.
With 24 years in the department, Couture at that time will be eligible to collect 60 percent of that salary or $46,500 per year, City Hall records show.
Unlike retirees, the union contract says those who have been fired cannot collect one day’s pay for each year they have served in the department.Rilling said Couture’s separation pay – the amount owed him for unused vacation time and time owed – was calculated Wednesday, but he did not have the figure available.
Unlike retirees, Couture is not entitled to health insurance.
“He and his family are holding up as well as can be expected under the circumstances. Steve Couture is a solid police officer, husband, son and father and he will continue to be so regardless of the injustice he has suffered at the hands of the cowardly police commission,” Gudis said.
Police commissioner Peter Torrano dismissed Gudis’ comment and chalked it up to a vigorous defense.
“He is an attorney trying to do the best he can for his client. I understand his need to be protective,” Torrano said.
Gudis said seven elements make up what is considered just cause for a disciplinary action.
“They failed to meet several steps of just cause, including there was an incomplete investigation and the penalty was not commensurate with the offense,” Gudis said.
Gudis said he did not know when the state board would hold a hearing in the matter.
“Steve could easily have been rehabbed. Why he was left on the road as a supervisor for the last 10 months shows that they had confidence in his abilities,” Gudis said.
source: Advocate, Police union files grievance over sergeant’s firing, By John Nickerson, 09/25/2008