On May 22, 2014, the Department of State Hospitals - Metropolitan State Hospital confirmed that it revoked two Notices of Adverse Action which were previously served on two of its Hospital Police Officers.
HPOs Jose Leal and Henry Moran received notices advising that each would be suspended for thirty working days, effective May 23, 2014. In May 2013, Leal and Moran were threatened by a patient while they were performing foot patrol duties in Metropolitan’s secure treatment unit. After attempting to speak with the patient, the patient challenged the officers to come closer to him and then attempted to punch one of the officers.
At the time, the officers were assigned to Metropolitan’s Grounds Safety Team which was formed two years ago to create a more visible law enforcement presence on the patient units. The duties of officers who work the GST post include initiating contact with staff and patients.
Upon their receipt of the Notices of Adverse Action, Leal and Moran immediately contacted CSLEA’s Supervising Legal Counsel, David De La Riva who then scheduled Skelly hearings for the officers with Metropolitan’s Executive Director, Dr. Michael Barsom. During the hearings, the officers clarified what occurred last May while they were on the GST assignment and evidence was presented in support of their respective arguments. Within three hours of the conclusion of the hearings, Metropolitan informed CSLEA that Dr. Barsom exercised the authority vested in him as the Skelly officer and withdrew both suspensions. Unfortunately, some Skellyofficers have been known to use the hearings as a vehicle to gather intelligence in anticipation of the evidentiary hearing to follow. However, when Dr. Barsom has served as a Skelly officer, he has consistently shown a willingness to revoke or modify the actions served on his officers, based on the facts presented.
This is another in a long line of examples wherein officers are accused of misconduct and qualified legal representation is required to properly address all aspects of their proposed punishments. Even though Leal and Moran do not have disciplinary records and have enjoyed distinguished careers at Metropolitan to date, they have continued to maintain their full-membership status with CSLEA knowing that in their line of work, allegations of misdeeds involving patients may occur at any time. CSLEA reminds Bargaining Unit 7 employees that the difference between maintaining full membership versus fair-share status is less than $10.00 per month. This is a small price to pay given that a decision to sustain the suspensions in this case would have cost each officer several thousands of dollars and could have served to permanently tarnish their reputations as officers. The stakes are too high to ignore the virtues of full membership.
Each officer expressed his gratitude to CSLEA after receiving the news of Dr. Barsom’s decision. Leal commented, “Without the help and representation of CSLEA, I feel this victory would not have been possible. David De La Riva’s experience and dedication played a major role in securing this victory for me and my family.”