EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

January 3, 2013

Editorial: Coddling of public employees defies logic

After paying him to do nothing for more than two years, the people of Lawrence may finally get a day’s work out of police Officer Daron Fraser.

Fraser was placed on paid administrative leave in July 2010 after being arrested and charged in Haverhill with assaulting his then girlfriend. Fraser was convicted of domestic assault and battery in February 2011. Following his conviction, police Chief John Romero called for Fraser to be fired.

But the decision on firing Fraser belonged to Mayor William Lantigua, who did nothing as the officer remained on paid leave and continued to collect paycheck after paycheck for not working. All the while, Fraser continued to accrue vacation and sick time as well as retirement benefits. Fraser was paid more than $150,000 for doing nothing.

Last August, a termination hearing officer recommended that Fraser be allowed to keep his job after serving a three-month suspension without pay. Lawyer Robert Leblanc, serving as the hearing officer, noted that, while a domestic violence conviction made Fraser ineligible to possess a firearm under federal law, “carrying a gun is not in the job description of a police officer.”

Lantigua ordered Fraser to serve a three-month, unpaid suspension beginning in early October. Fraser is eligible to return to work today.

Romero said that Fraser will be assigned to dispatch duties.

Once again, the coddling of public employees defies common sense.

In Fraser, we have a police officer convicted of domestic violence, who cannot carry a gun, whom his chief would prefer to fire, who was paid for more than two years to do nothing and will now be paid a police officer’s salary to do a job that rightly should be done by a civilian dispatcher at a lower rate.

And Fraser is not the public employee in the city to collect a paycheck for no work. In Lawrence, that’s practically a job description in itself.

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