MUNROE FALLS — A former police sergeant facing felony charges of misusing police resources got no support from a state board that reviewed his unfair labor practice allegations against the city.
On Oct. 25, the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) dismissed charges brought by former police Sgt. Robert Post against the city.
Christine Dietsch, executive director for SERB, said there was “lack of probable cause to believe that an unfair labor practice has been committed.”
Dietsch said Post is barred from returning to the board with the same complaint, but he could still file a mandamus action with the Summit County Court of Common Pleas.
Post, who represented himself, and attorney Paul Jackson, who represented the city, were not immediately available for comment.
In his March 8 filing, Post alleged the city violated state law by “interfering, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of their guaranteed rights, by discriminating against him, and by locking him out during a labor dispute,” according to a summary prepared for SERB by Tonya Jones, a labor relations specialist. In a March 23 supplemental filing, Post alleged the city violated state law by “discriminating against him for giving testimony, which resulted in his termination and by locking him out during a labor dispute,” according to a summary of the charge prepared by Jones.
Post was terminated from his job April 3 “following an investigation as the result of a citizen’s complaint,” Munroe Falls Police Chief Jerry Hughes said the same day.
“The investigation involved multiple Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) violations,” wrote Hughes to City Council on April 3. He added he reviewed his investigation with the police department’s legal adviser, Tom DiCaudo, who “advised it was in fact a violation and should be turned over to the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office for review ... I felt that I had no other choice but to terminate Sgt. Post’s employment with the Munroe Falls Police Department.”
In August, Post was charged with four counts of unauthorized use of LEADS, a fifth-degree felony. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will have a pretrial in the case on Nov. 21, with a trial scheduled for Dec. 13.
Before he was dismissed, Post filed unfair labor practice charges dealing with events that occurred leading up to his termination from his sergeant’s job.
Jones issued a report to SERB on Oct. 3 in which she stated Post “failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination,” and that Post “did not demonstrate or provide any information to support” the other allegations he made. Jones noted her investigation also found that although Post was a public employee who engaged in “protected activity,” he “failed to demonstrate that any adverse actions were taken against him regarding these events. Being required to take a fitness exam was a standard return to duty requirement.”
Jones concluded, “The city terminated Sergeant Post for violating work rules, which resulted in criminal charges being filed against him.”
At the time of his dismissal, Post had been on paid administrative leave for nearly four months. Post was placed on leave Dec, 7, 2017, following an alleged verbal dispute that occurred between him and Mayor James Armstrong in the police department parking lot four days earlier.
Jones said in her report that Post was terminated from his job after he showed up at a resident’s home in uniform in a police car when a letter regarding a civil dispute involving a local Homeowners Association was being delivered. The letter included Post’s signature, and those of others involved in the matter. Jones noted the city said it was “completely inappropriate” for an on-duty police officer to be involved in a civil dispute when that officer has an interest in the dispute, and that the city alleges Post used LEADS to “obtain personal information” about the resident to whom the letter was delivered.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.