September 14 – The Westover Civil Service Fee issued its ultimate order concerning the destiny of former Westover Police Officer Aaron Dalton, and can uphold the police division’s determination to terminate him.
Commissioners Jessica Thompson, Justin White and Robert Perryman heard 4 full days of testimony throughout a civil service listening to held earlier this yr to find out whether or not the division had simply trigger to terminate Dalton’s job as a Westover police officer.
Dalton’s unique termination by the Police Assessment Board was primarily based on three misconduct allegations, however the panel didn’t agree that each one three had been grounds for termination.
The primary incident occurred on August 25, 2019, following the arrest of William Cox. Dalton didn’t supervise a subordinate officer to safe Cox’s mobile phone containing stay video proof of the arrest. Patrolman Choose Carver testified that Dalton “threw” Cox’s mobile phone on the grass outdoors the police station. Practically two years after the arrest, the mobile phone was discovered within the proof room, however Cox finally received a lawsuit for false arrest that price the town $750,000.
After listening to proof and testimony, the fee discovered that the incident with Cox and his mobile phone didn’t violate any termination insurance policies.
The second incident in query pertains to the unlawful search of a room on the Econo Lodge lodge on August 26, 2020, the place Dalton was the highest-ranking officer. Police had been trying to find Travon Jerant, also referred to as “Taco,” who they believed was on the lodge and had an open warrant for housebreaking.
Physique digital camera footage from the arrest confirmed that Dalton participated in an unlawful search of the room with out consent or a warrant regardless of junior officers advising Geraint of his rights earlier than the search. Dalton ignored this and searched the room with out consent and and not using a warrant.
The fee discovered that though Dalton carried out an unlawful search and didn’t correctly supervise his subordinates, the violations didn’t rise to the extent of termination.
The third allegation surrounded Dalton’s “sample of harassment, bullying, sexual harassment, racism, destruction of homeless property, urinating on homeless property, and different violations.”
Different violations embrace public Fb posts made by Dalton after his suspension. The posts included derogatory statements in regards to the Westover Police Division as a complete and false statements about people from the Westover Police Division.
A number of of Dalton’s colleagues, together with WPD Secretary Christine Riley, Patrolman Andrew Cather, Officer Isiah Harmon, Patrolman Michael Cable, Sergeant Eric Mankins, Officer Chelsea Vohwinkel, Patrolman Choose Carver, and Patrolman Zachary Fixo, testified to varied incidents of Racism and harassment by Dalton created a hostile work surroundings.
Many officers said that they’re afraid of Dalton and when you do not like him he’ll goal you.
Westover Police Chief Joe Adams testified that along with investigating the accusations towards Dalton, he investigated all the accusations Dalton made towards different officers in his Fb posts and located not one of the accusations made by Dalton substantiated. He thought of all of them vindictive.
The fee discovered that Dalton “engaged in a sample of abusive conduct throughout his tenure with the Westover Police Division relationship again to incidents in 2016 via his placement on administrative go away in August 2021 through which Dalton behaved in a fashion that harassed and harassed his fellow officers.” Co-workers.”
The Fee additionally discovered that the statements made by Dalton in a public discussion board had been in violation of Metropolis of Westover and Westover Police Division insurance policies and would hurt public confidence within the Police Division.
The committee’s report said that publishing clearly false information geared toward harming the popularity of the person and the administration is in itself a criminal offense that justifies termination of service.
In contemplating the totality of the allegations towards Dalton concerning the hostile work surroundings and harassment, the commissioners discovered enough proof to assist a simply trigger termination.
Commissioners decide credibility of witnesses at listening to A majority of commissioners discovered that Dalton’s testimony concerning his explanations to WPD for his failure to adjust to insurance policies and procedures in every of the three incidents was not credible.
Commissioners said of their report that WPD created enough proof to point out that Dalton harassed fellow officers and workers and made false and defamatory statements on public social media posts towards the division and particular person officers. Additionally they discovered that Dalton’s actions broken his credibility together with his friends, supervisors, and neighborhood members, all of whom had been negatively affected by Dalton’s actions.
Finally, the commissioners affirmed and upheld his termination.
Matt Thorne, prosecuting lawyer for the town of Westover, mentioned the commissioners upholding the evaluation board’s unique determination to terminate Dalton’s employment is the absolute best consequence for the town and an excellent determination for police total.
“You possibly can’t have an officer who behaves like that, it damages the popularity of any police drive and causes a adverse view,” he mentioned. “We hope the residents of Westover stay life slightly simpler understanding they’re safer and not using a threatening officer or an officer discovered harassing others.”
Though the fee discovered that the mobile phone incidents and unlawful search at Cox didn’t rise to the extent of termination, they needed to contemplate these as elements within the total determination — which was attributable to Dalton’s lack of ability to carry out his duties, Thorne mentioned.
The Dominion Put up reached out to Dalton’s lawyer Christian Riddell to see in the event that they intend to enchantment the choice however had not acquired a response by press time.
Thorne mentioned he thinks Dalton’s crew will possible enchantment, however he does not suppose it is going to matter.
“Each proper Mr Dalton had was exercised to the fullest, and there’s completely no cause for them to problem this via enchantment,” he mentioned. “The commissioners did their greatest to present him latitude to acquire proof and problem the proof. I feel they did their greatest to present Mr Dalton each proper obtainable to current his case and, to be frank, I left his case beneath par as a result of it wasn’t sufficient.”