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Quincy prevails in arbitration with former cop McGunigle

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  January 29, 2013 01:35 PM

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Former Quincy police officer Joseph McGunigle will not be rejoining the force, after an outside arbitrator agreed that the city had the right to fire him.

In a decision issued Monday, arbitrator Philip Dunn agreed with the city that they had due cause to terminate the 15-year veteran officer after Police Chief Paul Keenan revoked his gun permit.

“The city for decades has required that police officers in Quincy maintain a valid license to carry as a condition of continuing employment…given these circumstances, the city had just cause to terminate the grievant’s employment without consideration of other cited bases for termination,” the decision said.

McGunigle has had a history of trouble with the department long before his firearms permit was revoked mid-March.

In 2001, McGungile was put on suspension for ticketing a Hull officer who ticketed his daughter.

In 2007, he was suspended again when he handed out 11 citations to neighbors for failing to clean up after their dogs.

After being placed on suspension, McGunigle was cleared of those charges by an arbitrating judge and received back pay.

Controversy arose again in September 2011, when McGunigle allegedly got into a heated argument with a neighbor regarding traffic cones. McGunigle was also accused of intimidating a witness that had filed the complaint against him.

McGunigle’s firearms permit was revoked a few months later, and in June 2012, the city’s Human Resources department terminated McGunigle, citing his work record and a departmental standard that police officers had to have a license to carry in order to be employed.

McGunigle appealed the revocation of his gun permit in Quincy District Court, which upheld the city’s decision.

The question before the arbitrator was whether the city could fire McGunigle solely based on his lack of a firearms permit. After several meetings, the city’s position was upheld.

According to the decision, despite the unclear language regarding the necessity of an officer to have a gun permit, it has been a well-known practice for decades. Furthermore, with narrow exception, all positions in the police department are required to have a license to carry.

McGunigle’s attorney in the arbitration could not be immediately reached for comment.

Representatives from the mayor’s office, the police chief, and the city’s attorney were also unavailable for comment.

City's human resources director, Steve McGrath, said, “We’re pleased with the decision, that it upheld our decision to terminate officer McGunigle, and we’re pleased that an arbitrator agreed with us.”

McGrath noted that though McGunigle could appeal to Superior Court, the decision isn't likely to be overturned.

The only remaining litigation between the city and McGunigle is a case in federal district court, which has been reassigned to another judge and does not yet have a hearing date.

According to Timothy Burke, McGunigle’s attorney in that lawsuit, the case maintains that McGunigle should not be punished by the city because he was exercising his First Amendment rights.

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