Springfield, Illinois Asks Judge to Overturn Police Arbitration Decision
The city of Springfield in Illinois has requested that a court strike down an arbitrator’s decision to re-instate a police officer who was fired for testing positive for using illegal substances, specifically steroids. Officer Loren Pettit was the first office in Springfield history to test positive for substance abuse. Many prominent figures in Springfield politics testified on his behalf at the arbitration hearing, and he was ordered to be re-hired at its conclusion.
The city, however, believes that not only was the officer’s termination supported by the simple fact that he violated the law and the policies of the police department, his credibility has been destroyed, citing the possibility that he might have to testify in court on a drug case.
Pettit came under investigation by the department of internal affairs after his girlfriend accused him of beating her and using illegal substances. Pettit testified at the arbitration hearing that he was unaware that the substances he was using were illegal, and that he had prescriptions for some of the substances, and that the Chief of Police also used some of the substances and was well aware of Pettit’s use. The Chief has denied these accusations. Pettit also claimed he had only used the substances due to struggles with his weight; at the time of his dismissal he weighed 330 pounds.
The city expressed concern not only with Pettit’s ability to do his job under these circumstances, but also with the consequences of being unable to dismiss officers even when they have clearly violated the law, and pointed out that when police arrest someone, ignorance of the law is never considered exonerating.