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Judges disagree on hiring retired cops Print
A New Haven Regsiter editorial - 05/15/2007

Unlike East Haven case, court rules cop back from Iraq not entitled to his old job.
A Superior Court judge in Hartford has breathed new hope into East Haven’s fight to keep former police Officer Robert Nappe from turning its personnel rules inside out.

Nappe is the cop who retired when the Police Department refused him a leave so he could work in Iraq as a police trainer for DynCorp, a State Department contractor.
When he came back, he asked for his old job back, citing a state law covering officers who serve in international peacekeeping operations. Noting that he had retired, the town refused. Nappe sued.

His case closely tracks that of Peter Barton, a former Bristol police sergeant who was also refused a leave of absence, retired and went to work for DynCorp in Iraq. Barton earned $122,000 in Iraq, $80,000 of which was tax free. Plus, he collected a pension equal to half and then 70 percent of his pay as a police officer.

In April, Superior Court Judge Angela C. Robinson sided with Nappe, ordering his return to work in East Haven. If allowed to stand, her decision allows state law to usurp towns’ control of how they staff their police departments.

The Nappe case was closely watched by another Superior Court judge, John J. Langenbach, who read the same law. He has ruled it doesn’t apply to Barton, who won’t get his job back.

Langenbach’s ruling is on sounder ground than Robinson’s decision.

The Hartford judge ruled that working for a State Department contractor did not meet the law’s standard of "peacekeeping operations under the supervision of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe or other sponsoring organization." The judge found that "other sponsoring organization" meant an international body.

The judge also pointed out that Barton retired from the Bristol Police Department. The state law applies to officers who resign or take a leave of absence. There is a basic difference between resigning and retiring. Barton retired. So did Nappe.

The judge’s ruling against Barton’s reinstatement gives East Haven added reason to pursue its appeal of Robinson’s wrongheaded ruling. Former cops’ desire for private profit should not trump the public interest.
 
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