EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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August 22, 2013

Officer's fate rests with town officials

Town, lawyer paint very different pictures

PELHAM — Two very different portrayals of police Officer Eugene Stahl were painted last night during his public termination hearing.

One is of a repeatedly suspended officer who disregards department policies, speaks in anger to citizens and needlessly waves his gun near a school bus.

This is the Eugene Stahl administrators want to fire.

“He can’t be on this department any more,” attorney Peter Nicosia argued on behalf of the administration.

The other Eugene Stahl is an award-winning officer, praised at times by his chief in job reviews and respected by his peers.

“This man is a fine officer,” attorney David Slawsky said on Stahl’s behalf.

A nearly 90-minute hearing at Town Hall drew about 40 people, including many members of the police department.

Attorneys have a week to file followup briefs, then selectmen will have another 10 days to issue a written decision.

Stahl will have appeal options either to Superior Court or through a labor relations process through the Pelham chapter of the AFSCME Local 3657 that represents patrol officers.

Chief Joseph Roark has recommended his dismissal.

Roark said Stahl has been on paid administrative leave. Slawsky said the leave has been for almost four months.

Slawsky argued that is long enough and Stahl should not be fired.

He said selectmen could impose less serious discipline.

“It is time to put him back to work,” Slawsky said.

He acknowledged Stahl is not perfect, but said his more than 12-year career with the department should not be defined by four or five minutes of video tape from actions in the field.

“The truth is, warts and all, Officer Stahl is proud of his career,” Slawsky said.

Nicosia showed selectmen video from a DWI stop last January during which Stahl cursed at a 23-year-old woman and told her, “You’re going to jail.”

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