Fired Aurora Police officer Joseph LaPerna, 49, is appealing Aurora’s decision to fire him, according to Aurora Law Director Dean DePiero.
About two weeks ago, DePiero said, the city got notice of LaPerna’s decision to put the firing through arbitration mediated by the State Employment Relations Board, an agency from the State of Ohio for labor disputes.
LaPerna is able to appeal the decision as part of a collective bargaining agreement between the Aurora Police union and the city. LaPerna already appealed the decision to fire him to the mayor, but the mayor upheld the decision, DePiero said.
"We feel very confident the city will prevail," DePierro said, citing LaPerna’s criminal conviction and the past issues the city has had with his conduct.
LaPerna was fired in August after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of improperly exhibiting a dangerous weapon, a first-degree misdemeanor, in Lee County, Florida. (Fort Myers is the county seat of Lee County.)
He allegedly brandished a pistol at another driver while he was off-duty in southern Florida on Interstate 75 heading south toward Naples. He was on unpaid leave between the time he was arrested and the time he was fired.
LaPerna was sentenced to 100 hours of community service or a $1,000 fine, a $525 fine, and ordered to pay court costs of $270. Also, he must surrender his firearms and must attend anger management classes. He cannot have contact with the two other people involved in the incident.
In a termination letter dated Aug.14 from Aurora Police Chief Bryan Byard to LaPerna, the chief states LaPerna violated three of the police department’s rules of conduct, a section of the Aurora Police Patrolmen’s Contract regarding use of force and weapons and two of the department’s standard operating procedures relating to the use of a personal firearm.
Code of conduct sections Byard said were violated include a section requiring members to maintain a positive public image, a prohibition against committing unsafe acts and a requirement to obey the law.
LaPerna was fired in 2006 for allegedly chasing a car back to an Aurora home while he was off-duty after the car allegedly crossed the double-yellow line. The chase reached speeds of up to 60 mph, according to a city investigation into the incident.
He was reinstated after the incident.
He has several other discipline notices in his personnel file, which was reviewed by the Record-Courier, including misusing sick leaving, rude behavior toward residents and leaving his firearm unsecured, among other issues.
In addition to the disciplinary actions, LaPerna’s personnel file also shows he has been recognized twice by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers for his efforts, and he has received some thank-you letters from citizens.
Contact reporter Eileen McClory at email@example.com or @Eileen_McClory.