OBPA union to fight Centerville sergeant’s termination

A Centerville police sergeant, who was terminated on March 16 for allegedly violating police and city rules and regulations, is appealing the move by the city.

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City officials issued a termination letter stating that Myers was being let go for eight violations involving the police department’s rules of conduct and five violations regarding the city’s personnel manual.

According to the termination letter, the problems stem from an audio recording made by Myers during an investigation into department affairs in December 2018 and into whether he withheld an audio recording he made while meeting with city officials

Joe Hegedus spokesman for the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association told the Dayton Daily News that the organization strongly disagrees with the city’s position in the matter, feels that the position is unsubstantiated in all factual documents and actions in the matter.

“Somehow the city has decided that Sgt. Myers is not on their team and I think his termination was expressly done to excise someone who is not afraid to speak out if he believes something is not being done correctly or is being done unfairly,” Hegedus said.

Hegedus said he believes that there was in fact carryover from a letter Myers wrote in support of an city employee who was being disciplined.

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“That led to the five day suspension which the city seems to be overreacting to,” Hegedus said, noting that the five-day suspension is currently being reviewed by the Appeals Board. “As a result of the investigation into Sgt, Myers writing the letter they discovered that he had surreptitiously recorded a meeting he had with the city manager and the police chief.”

The OPBA maintains that Myers did nothing wrong in recording the meeting, and there was no rule against it.

“It was certainly not in violation of any law. You can record a conversation that you are a party to,” Hegedus explained. “That is all that he did. The city had no policy at that time, but in fact, they have now issued a policy covering recordings in the workplace.”

He added that Myers never denied recording the conversation and he had previously requested whistleblower protection because he was aware of wrongdoing by other departmental employees.

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“Myers had disclosed that he had made the tape to his lawyer Jeffrey Silverstein who then advised him if there is not a policy and procedure in place about whether or not it exists then there’s not a reason to disclose it.

“I can’t disagree with that advice at all. They never asked him if a recording existed,” Hegedus said. “The termination letter references all of these policies that were alleged to have been violated but it is overkill. If you read it, it is all the same.”

Hegedus said that the collective bargaining agreement, which went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year, provides the opportunity for Myers to appeal his termination and it could be a four to six month process, especially with all of the coronavirus issues at-hand.

“The process will show that Sgt. Myers is well-respected, had been recommend by the police chief to attend training at the FBI Academy,” Hegedus said. “This is what the process is here for and I believe that it will work for Sgt. Myers because he did not deserve to be terminated.”

Information from the city and attorney Silverstein are due on March 30 for the five-day suspension appeal. The city maintains in the termination letter that an investigation into the actions of Myers led to a lawful termination.

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