A 15-year veteran of the Quincy Police Department who is currently suing the city was terminated Tuesday after a second hearing with the mayor’s office.
In a decision issued on June 12, Director of Human Resources Stephen McGrath said McGunigle was unfit to be a Quincy officer.
“I accept Chief [Paul] Keenan’s recommendation that Officer McGunigle has exhibited an inability to conform to the standards of the Quincy Police Department,” McGrath wrote. “During his testimony, Chief Keenan indicated that he has never seen an individual with a work record like this, or with as many complaints against him/her.”
Officer Joseph McGunigle was placed on 30-day unpaid administrative leave on March 9 on charges of prohibitive conduct stemming from a dispute with a neighbor over traffic cones last September.
McGunigle then had his firearms license revoked in mid-March due to numerous additional complaints by neighbors.
Since the department cannot employ officers who do not have a firearms permit, police couldn’t say at that time if and when McGunigle would return back to work.
The report upholds the decision to revoke the firearms permit, and furthermore states that it is a necessary component of McGunigle’s police job.
“I find that Officer McGunigle’s failure to maintain appropriate and lawful weapons licensure precludes him from satisfying a condition of his employment and thus warrants termination in and of itself,” McGrath wrote in the report.
The termination was also due to several other charges, most notably stemming from an alleged violation of orders from Police Chief Paul Keenan, which mandated on Sept 13 that McGunigle stay away from the police headquarters.
According to hearing records, McGunigle came in to the police station on Oct. 17, 2011, in an effort to allegedly intimidate a witness who had filed prior complaint against him.
The witness, Michelle Webber, was meeting at the station to apply for a firearms license from the department, the hearing report states.
McGunigle’s wife, Dianne, previously stated that her husband went into the lobby solely to use the ATM, and for no other purpose.
Yet “Officer McGunigle’s explanation of using a particular ATM machine at that location…is not credible, particularly given the express language of the order stating that ‘you may not be on the premises without prior permission from the Chief of Police’,” the report stated.
Separately, McGunigle filed a lawsuit on May 11 against Keenan and the city.
In the lawsuit, McGunigle alleged that Keenan has “failed to maintain his neutrality” when handling complaints involving McGunigle and that he has used the media to discredit him.
McGunigle is seeking damages for lost income and benefits. His attorney, Tim Burke, has said he hopes to have the lawsuit in front of a jury within a year.
Although McGunigle's lawsuit is independent of any disciplinary actions, Burke still feels the result of the latest determination is skewed.
"I think it would have been much more legitimate for the city had they hired an outside, independent, and, in my view, an objective hearing officer rather than someone employed by the city," Burke said in a phone interview. "It was preordained from the moment the chief was unsuccessful in getting him terminated in the first hearing, as you had an independent person there, who evaluated the case and had an independent result."
McGungile will have the ability to seek out arbitration through an appeals process for both hearings while the lawsuit is ongoing, Burke said.
Regarding this latest decision, Quincy Police personnel referred comment to the mayor’s office.
In an email, mayoral spokesperson Christopher Walker said, “The mayor followed the recommendation of the hearing officer, and the officer has been terminated effectively immediately … The hearing officer’s report speaks for itself.”