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Fired CdA officer files claim against city

Wed., Nov. 25, 2009

Man says frivolous complaints led to termination

A 17-year veteran of the Coeur d’Alene Police Department filed a $3 million tort claim against the city Tuesday, saying he was fired without cause following a string of frivolous complaints against him by a subordinate.

Dan Dixon was fired in July, according to his attorney, Lawrence Beck, who said the case highlights the city’s lack of policies governing employee timekeeping.

“They don’t punch a time card. They don’t fill out a log. Dan was accused of a convenient thing that is becoming a fad at police departments around the United States when you want to get rid of an employee that you don’t have any real basis to discharge,” Beck said. Deputy City Manager Jon Ingalls said the city had just received the tort claim and has not had a chance to review it. “It would be inappropriate to comment on it at this time,” he said.

Beck said filing the claim with the city is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit in First District Court, the next step if the city does not respond within the next few weeks. The claim also names as defendants Coeur d’Alene police Sgt. Daniel O’Dell, Capt. Ron Clark and Capt. Steve Childers.

The claim says that from August 2007 to December 2008, O’Dell, a subordinate to Dixon, filed frivolous complaints against Dixon. They included complaints that Dixon changed O’Dell’s work hours on one day and failed to supply another officer with training O’Dell thought that person needed. One complaint accused Dixon of charging the department for hours he did not work, the claim says.

Dixon complained to Childers regarding what he felt was harassment by a subordinate, but the department did nothing, the claim says. Dixon was told the department was launching an investigation into his alleged work-hour discrepancies, the claim says. An internal investigation lasted more than six months. On June 10, Dixon received a memo from Chief Wayne Longo saying he was recommending termination. The city produced no evidence showing Dixon had stolen time from the city, the claim says.

“Dan has been with the Police Department for over 17 years and has an exemplary record,” Beck said.

Dixon’s claim for $3 million includes compensation for retirement, wages and benefits that would have accumulated during his career.

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