Police news

Patrolman Gary Doolittle won an arbitration against the city over his termination that was effective June 15.

Doolittle was terminated for his involvement in a physical altercation with a citizen while off duty in mid-March.

The city of Corry was notified of the arbitration's result Monday afternoon, and city officials are working with the Corry Police Department, the police union and the state to work through the process to reinstate him, City Manager Jason Biondi said.

"The first step is to get him recertified as an officer," Biondi said. "We are working through that now. As far as specifics to his date of return, I don't know that at this time."

Doolittle is to get recertified through the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission, which will require him to get a firearms qualification, first aid and CPR training and more, Biondi said.

While Biondi could not say how much this arbitration has cost the city until further research is done, he did say Doolittle will be reinstated at his former pay rate. 

"I have no idea where we are going to go from here. It's early in the process to know what the total impact will be to the department and the city financially," Biondi said. 

He continued to say an extra officer was not in the budget for 2021.

"We'll have to look at the financials, look at how it was budgeted and determine what to do from there," Biondi said. 

This outcome was not anticipated by city officials, he said.

"If we would have anticipated it settling this way, we would have definitely looked at it differently," Biondi said. "That's one part of arbitration, you always have a chance for it to go in any direction but no, I did not anticipate for it to go this direction."

It is not clear how this affects other officers as of yet, Biondi said. 

When it was announced in August that Doolittle and the police union were exercising their rights under the city of Corry and police collective bargaining agreement, which includes arbitration, to settle the difference of opinion, patrolman Daniel Leek was promoted from part-time to temporary full-time patrolman C with the city of Corry Police Department. 

At that time, his promotion was contingent on the outcome of the arbitration.

Leek was transitioned from temporary full time to permanent full time in October when former police chief Rich Shopene retired and a full-time opening was created with the move of Michael Cherry into the interim chief position.

The altercation that led to the termination took place on March 14, after a 911 call reported a physical confrontation. 

City police officers arrived at the scene and found Doolittle holding down a man. 

Corry City Police said in a news release that the man reportedly stopped his vehicle in the middle of the street and approached Doolittle's vehicle.

Doolittle reportedly exited his vehicle and the man came toward Doolittle and took a swing at him.

Police said the man was taken to the city police station for investigation and was released after consultation with the Erie County District Attorney's Office.

The man and Doolittle sought medical treatment at Corry Memorial Hospital, an affiliate of LECOM Health. The man was transported by ambulance from the police station when he was released.

The criminal investigation into the incident was turned over to Erie County Detectives the next day to investigate the incident as a neutral third party.

The investigation was reviewed by Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri, who made the decision that no charges should be filed against either party.

A letter from Shopene and Biondi to recommend the termination to Corry City Council said an internal investigation was conducted, which showed that Doolittle violated several city of Corry Police Department policies, several sections of the city of Corry Police Department's Code of Conduct and violated the law, even though Daneri made the decision not to prosecute.

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