By Jennifer Foley, MAP Editor

A Sterling Heights patrol officer received a reduction in his discipline and was made whole after Michigan Association of Police (MAP) filed a grievance on his behalf.

The Officer, who worked the night shift, was given a five-day suspension with an additional five days held in abeyance for one year from the time of the incident for falling asleep while on duty and failing to respond to a radio call for approximately 10 minutes on May 18, 2014. On the night in question, the Officer was called to the station and interviewed by a Sergeant at which time the Officer acknowledged that he fell asleep.

The next day, May 19, 2014, the Officer was placed on desk duty and while he was off work, on May 22 he went to see a doctor for excessive daytime sleepiness. He was referred to a sleep disorders institute where he was diagnosed with a shift work related sleep disorder. He followed the doctor’s prescribed remedies and had no further incidents.

During the investigation, it was also found that the Grievant had fallen asleep while working with another officer and did not report for a run to which both were assigned. The officer spoke directly with the Grievant, but did not report the incident to a supervisor.

The Officer provided the City with his doctor’s assessment and even offered to allow the City doctor to examine him. The City declined to send the grievant to their employer physician. The grievance filed by MAP on the Officer’s behalf requested removal of all discipline “due to (the Officer’s) documented medical condition and that he be made whole.”

The Arbitrator compared the Officer’s case to that of three other police officials in the same department, all of whom received less stringent discipline than the Grievant. “Grievant was given the most severe discipline, a five-day suspension, in contrast to a four-day suspension, a letter of reprimand and a one-day suspension,” the Arbitrator wrote in his decision. “The second and more critical distinction is that Grievant sought medical assistance for what he perceived to be a problem he had experienced at least once, if not twice, before while on duty. The Grievant promptly took steps to seek and obtain medical advice, was referred to a medical doctor with expertise in the sleep disorder area, and provided that documentation to his employer. Grievant participated in a two-day sleep study and followed all of his medical doctor’s plan for addressing his disorder.”

However, the Arbitrator wrote, “He had at least one if not two prior occasions where he fell asleep on the job ... Grievant should have and could have addressed his sleep disorder earlier. He could have done so at least by advising the Department and/or seeking medical advice. For those reasons, some discipline is warranted.”

The Arbitrator reduced the five day discipline to two days and made note that the five days of abeyance expired as of May 18, 2015. He ordered the Officer be made whole.