Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hamilton Police Lieutenant Appeals Suspension

In an appeal filed earlier this year, Hamilton Police Lieutenant Lawrence M. Sweeney contested discipline--probably a suspension--imposed against him for "verbally berating" a female "Public Safety Telecommunicator" named Laurel MacKenzie. According to "charges and specification" leveled against Sweeney, he is accused of berating MacKenzie on October 27, 2007 "over the volume of the television while a priority job was taking place on the street."

The "charges and specification" are on-line here.

While it is not completely clear, it appears that Lieutenant Sweeney was disciplined for yelling at a dispatcher who had the television on too loud while on duty.

Sweeney and MacKenzie are listed on Gannett's "DataUniverse" site as having been in public service for 20 and 25 years and having made $120,328 and $55,136 in 2007, respectively.

Even though the incident occurred in 2007, the appeal was filed with the State Department of Personnel in December 2008 and transferred to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) in early 2009. The OAL has assigned Docket No. CSV198-09 to the case, and, unless it settles, the matter will eventually be heard by an administrative judge, who will make a recommendation to the Department of Personnel affirming, modifying or reversing the discipline that Hamilton imposed.


I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project which seeks to increase governmental transparency and accountability, particularly at a local level.

As part of my work, I routinely check administrative Civil Service appeal dockets. Most often, the public does not get to see these records. I post them on-line for several reasons: a) because they sometimes reveal official wrongdoing by a government employee, b) because they sometimes suggest that a government agency is using the disciplinary process to retaliate (i.e. file trumped up charges) against an politically or otherwise unpopular employee and c) because these appeals and the underlying disciplinary charges cost public money and the taxpayers ought to be aware of how their money is being spent.

For more information on the Libertarian Party, click here. For similar postings on other government officials, see my blog.

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