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September 12, 2013

Pelham police officer is fired

PELHAM — Selectmen have unanimously backed police Chief Joseph Roark’s recommendation to dismiss Officer Eugene Stahl.

The police officers union will appeal the decision through the labor grievance process, attorney David Slawsky said yesterday.

Slawsky represented Stahl during a disciplinary hearing last month.

He referred questions to a union representative who did not return a phone call. Stahl also did not return a call.

Selectmen issued a brief statement about Stahl’s dismissal.

“Effective September 10, 2013, Eugene Stahl’s employment with the Pelham Police Department has been terminated,” it read.

The board said it handles personnel matters in accordance with applicable law.

“Accordingly, the town is unable to add further comment on matters involving town personnel,” the statement read.

Selectmen’s vice chairman William McDevitt said the board’s decision was a unanimous one.

About 40 people, including many members of the Pelham Police Department, attended the hearing Aug. 21 at Town Hall, which Stahl requested be held in open session.

The police administration maintained Stahl was repeatedly suspended for disregarding department policies.

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

The administration alleged Stahl had spoken in anger to citizens and waved a gun near a school bus.

Nicosia showed selectmen a video from a DWI stop last winter in which Stahl could be heard cursing a woman and telling her, “You’re going to jail.”

Nicosia said Stahl interrogated the woman in an abusive, hostile manner for more than 40 minutes.

But at the hearing, Slawsky characterized Stahl as an award-winning officer, praised at times by his chief in job reviews and respected by his peers.

Slawsky had asked selectmen to instead return Stahl to duty.

“This man is a fine officer,” he told selectmen.

Stahl served 12 years with the department.

It’s unclear whether Stahl’s position will be filled.

McDevitt said selectmen would await a recommendation from the chief concerning the future of the position.

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