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Arbitrator Rejects Exeter Cop’s Grievance Over Firing

June 1, 2018 GMT

EXETER — Veteran police officer Leonard Galli was properly fired last summer for continuing to use his work computer for personal business, an arbitrator ruled Thursday.

Arbitrator Ralph H. Colflesh Jr. rejected a union grievance the Exeter police officer filed, noting in his ruling that Galli was still on probation after being fired for the first time in July 2014 for “a voluminous mis-use of the borough’s computers” — the officer was accused of running his businesses, viewing pornography and seeking sexual encounters online while on duty.

The terms of Galli’s probation made clear he could not use borough computers for personal business, the decision says.

“All of us make mistakes, and many of us make the same mistake twice,” Colflesh wrote. “However, the penalties often increase proportionally, as is the case here. The pity is that the borough is losing an excellent officer of the law, a professional in his field, and a leader in every sense. But the terms of my original award would be meaningless were I not to enforce them. I have no choice but to do just that.”

When Galli was first fired in July 2014, in addition to doing work for his businesses, he was accused of viewing thousands of pornographic files and arranging sexual encounters during work hours. He got his job back in September 2015 after Colflesh ruled in his favor, imposing the probationary conditions that he said would “provide assurance to the borough that its proprietorship over its equipment would be protected.”

In the most recent termination letter, borough officials alleged at least 20 instances in which Galli misused his work computer after his reinstatement — such as writing a tenant eviction notice for a rental property, sending emails about his karate studio, promoting his firearms training school and watching videos about Superman on YouTube.

The Fraternal Order of Police challenged each of the alleged offenses, arguing that some of the conduct took place outside of work hours and other conduct would have benefitted the borough.

But Colflesh found that Galli had, in fact, violated the terms of his probation by using borough equipment for “patently prohibited uses.”

The decision Thursday notes that Galli was not prohibited from using personal devices, such as smart phones or tablet computers, while at work.

“Those terms did not create a trap into which Mr. Galli would inevitably fall,” Colflesh wrote.