Pubdate: Tue, 17 Oct 2000
Source: Akron Beacon-Journal (OH)
Copyright: 2000 by the Beacon Journal Publishing Co.
Author: Gregory Korte


Split Decision On Worker Who Admitted Smoking Marijuana. Police Captain's 
Suspension Reduced

In separate split decisions, the Akron Civil Service Commission upheld the 
city's dismissal of a firefighter who admitted to smoking marijuana and 
reduced the suspension of a police captain accused of threatening another 

In both cases, the commission was divided 2-1, with Commissioner James A. 
Frost arguing for greater leniency for firefighter Jerry Washington and 
police Capt. Lynn Callahan.

Washington, 39, had been a firefighter since 1985. During a random drug 
test July 27, he tested positive for marijuana, and admitted smoking the 
drug the previous evening. Fire Chief Charles Gladman fired him rather than 
referring him to rehabilitation.

In a written majority opinion, Commissioners Sidney Foster Jr. and Virginia 
Robinson said the rehabilitation option did not preclude the chief from 
firing Washington.

They also said Washington's case was different from the case of Kenneth 
Clark, the police officer that the commission reinstated last year after 
also testing positive for marijuana.

The commission did not explain why the cases were different, however, and 
thus provided little guidance as to when it is willing to enforce the 
city's "zero tolerance" drug policy.

Indeed, Frost argued in his dissenting opinion that the "zero tolerance" 
policy doesn't exist at all.

"I strongly feel that this commission should not give the city something 
they failed to get in negotiations," Frost said.

The mandatory drug testing policy is expected to be a key issue this fall, 
as the police and firefighter unions seek to renew labor contracts which 
expire at the end of the year.

In the case of Callahan, the commission reduced his suspension from 20 days 
to just three days.

Callahan, 52, had been accused of confronting Beth Daugherty, then a 
lieutenant in the Internal Affairs Division, over the investigation of his 
brother, Lt. Tim Callahan, 53. Tim Callahan was suspended for running 
computer checks of license plate numbers for an acquaintance who was later 
arrested on a charge of drug trafficking.

The commission found that Lynn Callahan had engaged in conduct unbecoming 
of an officer, but that the mayor's 20-day suspension was excessive because 
Daugherty testified that she never felt physically threatened.
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