An arbitrator recently overturned the suspension of Northampton Police Lt. Al Borowski, a member of NEPBA Local 187. In doing so, the arbitrator was highly critical of the internal affairs investigation that was conducted jointly by the Northampton Police Department and a private, 3rd party internal investigation company. NP Attorney Gary Nolan represented the NEPBA and Lt. Borowski.
Lt. Borowski was originally disciplined for his conduct in removing medication from the Department's medicine disposal box and depositing it into the evidence control room. The significant arbitration findings included:
Lt. Borowski had a clean discipline record, and a performance record marked by hard work, dedication and excellence;
Lt. Borowksi's conduct was intended to balance the department's commitment to citizen anonymity when using the disposal box with the procedures for documenting evidence. There was no evidence of any criminal conduct, no evidence that the medicine was illegally obtained, no evidence of any active drug investigation, and Lt. Borowski had no intent to conceal information for personal reasons;
The internal affairs investigation had many failings, including (1) the failure to employ appropriate investigative techniques, (2) the failure to investigate properly the role of a police Captain who was involved and disciplined for his conduct in the matter, and then allowing that same Captain to head the internal investigation; and (3) the conducting of unrecorded, undocumented interviews of percipient witnesses by the Police Administration, outside of the internal affairs process, and the Administration's troubling failure to disclose either the existence of these interviews, or the information gathered, to the independent investigator or to the union;
The Police Captain in charge of the Internal Investigation was allowed to continue in that role, and was even allowed to participate in the disciplinary decision, after the Department learned that he had multiple potential conflicts of interest; and
The Police Administration failed to inform the independent investigator of material information, and failed to include evidence of mitigating circumstances in the investigative report.
The City was ordered to immediately rescind the suspension of Lt. Borowski, remove all references to the discipline from his personnel file, and make him whole for all lost wages, overtime and any benefits lost.