Peru police officer Sam Finnegan will be returning to the Peru Police Department after reaching an agreement with the City of Peru today.
Finnegan was terminated from the department in March of 2015 charged with a litany of department SOP violations, and while most of those charges were ultimately discarded, that decision was upheld by the Board of Works June 24, 2015.
Finnegan appealed the Board of Works decision to the Miami County Circuit Court, and in April this year, Judge Tim Spahr found in favor of Finnegan citing that “the decision of the Board of Works and Public Safety of the City of Peru …. was not based on substantial evidence, was arbitrary and capricious, and was in violation of Finnegan’s statutory rights.”
While the City of Peru appealed the decision to the Indiana Court of Appeals, they have now reached a settlement and will be withdrawing their request for appeal of that decision.
Today, attorneys for Finnegan, along with City Attorney Patrick Roberts, reached a final agreement which will settle the matter.
In the agreement reached today, Finnegan will be paid all his back-pay and benefits dating back to his dismissal on May 9, 2015. While, there are no specific numbers on this portion of the settlement at this time, the base pay for a Patrolman at the PPD is $38,000 per year, with officers receiving longevity pay of 1/2 percent per year, and Finnegan was a 12-year veteran of the department.
In addition, the City of Peru will award Finnegan with a $20,000 settlement check within 10-days of today in order to pay back debts and attorney fees. They will also drop their appeal of the case. To read the full settlement, click HERE.
According to the agreement, Finnegan will be required to be placed on administrative leave while he is required to pass a psychological fitness for duty evaluation with Public Safety Medical and then will be required to complete 24-hours of the State of Indiana mandated firearms training, training on new software being used by the City of Peru Police Department, and training on policy changes within the City of Peru.
In a press release, City of Peru Mayor Gabriel Greer reported he was elated to have the Peru Police Department whole again and the matter resolved.
“We are excited to have Sam Finnegan back where he belongs on the Peru Police Department,” Mayor Greer said. “It’s been a long, hard road to make things right from all that happened last year. This is hopefully the last chapter of that.”
In his release, Mayor Greer, reported that in the Circuit Court decision, Judge Tim Spahr, “said evidence showed, then, City Clerk Treasurer Jackie Gray was notified via certified letter that a doctor had granted Finnegan FMLA. However, Gray’s office failed to communicate to Finnegan how long of a leave he was allowed to take, as well as when he was to return.”
The Mayor’s press release goes on to report that, “based on the missed days Finnegan accrued due to notification, then Police-Chief Ray Raney recommended to the Board of Works and Public Safety that Finnegan’s employment be terminated. The Board of Works, which at the time included then-Mayor Jim Walker, Steve Gough, and fill-in Bruce Carson, who stood in during personnel discipline matters for then, City Attorney, Bill Berkshire, voted to uphold Raney’s recommendation and terminated Finnegan.”
“Sam never deserved to be fired,” Mayor Greer said today. “It was wrong for the previous administration to fire him, and we are immensely happy to get back to working with city employees, and not against them. Collectively, our police force is happy to have all this in the past now, and to be made whole again. It’s been a long process. There were a lot of details to be worked out regarding legal issues and settlements. But, we’ve come to an amicable agreement between the City and Sam. We’re happy to finally resolve the issues we inherited.” To see Mayor Greer’s full press release, click HERE.
Peru Police Chief Mike Meeks reported he was happy to have the matter resolved and have his officer return to the department.
“I know in talking to Sam over the past seven months,” Meeks said of Finnegan, “he has told me several times how badly he wants to come back to work for the Peru Police Department to continue to serve our community. He has turned down other job opportunities to stay with us. We are excited to have Sam back. We hope the citizens of Peru will join us in embracing Sam’s return to our department.”