Local Police Officer Zerbe Fired Again; Will Challenge Decision
The City of Douglas recently discharged the same police officer it attempted to do so unsuccessfully back in 2008 when an arbitrator’s ruling compelled the city to reinstate him.
Officials announced Monday night that Mark Zerbe will be appealing Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere’s recent action to dismiss Zerbe from the Saugatuck-Douglas Police Department.
LeFevere declined to provide details about the case, merely saying it was about a “labor matter” and that Zerbe will be given an opportunity to make his case before Douglas City Council in an attempt to regain his post.
The appeal process is slated for December 18 at the regularly scheduled Douglas City Council meeting.
Saugatuck-Douglas Police Department Interim Chief Steve Kent, present at Monday’s meeting, also declined comment to The Local Observer Newspapers, describing the issue as a “personnel matter.”
In 2008, the city disciplined Zerbe along with then-fellow Saugatuck-Douglas Police Department Officer Brian Long following an internal investigation conducted by the then-police chief Ken Giles.
In his investigation, the former police chief found Zerbe and Long to be in gross negligence of the codes of procedure when they responded to an alleged domestic dispute/violence call in September 2008.
Ken Giles claimed Zerbe’s actions had endangered the safety of the persons involved in the alleged domestic violence case as well as fellow officer Long.
The city fired Zerbe and suspended Long.
But the officers challenged the city in an out-of-court arbitration and won; the arbitrator ruled the city’s discipline excessively severe and required the city to re-instate Zerbe to his former position in 2009.
The city was forced to amend its budget to compensate Zerbe a total of $33,342 that included back pay, retirement plan, and insurance benefits.
Zerbe continued to serve in the department, but Long is no longer with the department.
Douglas operates the police department and contracts out to the City of Saugatuck.
The cities share in the cost to run the Saugatuck-Douglas Police Department, currently totaling over $1 million.
Without Zerbe, the department currently employs four officers, an interim chief of police—with two officers always serving 24 hours per day, seven days per week—as well as an office clerk.