A State Supreme Court justice Tuesdayupheld a Suffolk County decision to terminate a police recruit whose stepfather worked in the department’s applicant investigation unit after he was improperly given a third chance to pass a physical agility exam.
Justice Arthur Pitts’ ruling came days before Christopher McAdam, who earlier got a temporary court order restoring him to the police academy, was scheduled to graduate Friday in a ceremony at the Suffolk County Community College Brentwood campus.
“It is undisputed that the petitioner failed to successfully complete the necessary requirement of a physical fitness screening test on two separate occasions,” said Pitts in his decision, noting the longstanding county policy is to allow only a single retest.StoryBrown: Sini was wrong to promote Suffolk copColumnBrand: Sini’s unusual decision on promotion
McAdam twice failed to meet the requirement for sit-ups, but a lawsuit he filed late last year against the county claimed the first “retest was an nullity” because the order of exercises was changed to put sit-ups before push-ups.
However, Pitts said the head of the applicant investigation unit not only “granted a second retest,” but gave McAdam 25 days more than anyone else to prepare, without authorization from the police commissioner or the head of civil service, which runs the test.
“Under the totality of circumstances . . . the termination . . . from his position as police officer was neither arbitrary, capricious, unfair or any abuse of discretion,” Pitts ruled in dismissing the suit.
Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, confirmed Feb. 9, said he “stands by the initial decision” of his predecessor, Edward Webber to remove McAdam and signed papers Wednesday dismissing him from the department.
“It’s extremely important to the police department that the process of becoming a police officer has complete integrity,” Sini said. “Today’s decision furthers that objective.” Sini could not say whether the department can legally recover the part of the $42,000 annual salary paid to McAdam during the four months the temporary court order was in effect.
Christopher Rothemich, McAdam’s attorney, did not return repeated calls for comment. Several county sources say that McAdam was not present at the academy Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear what impact McAdam’s case might have on the ongoing internal affairs investigation of former commander of the applicant investigations unit, Lt. Paul Memay, who authorized the additional test, or Richard Roth, McAdam’s stepfather, an officer who worked for Memay.
Sini said the department will continue its independent internal affairs investigation, which has been underway since early December but expedited by the new commissioner, “to get to the bottom of everything.”
Just before Sini was confirmed by the legislature as police commissioner, he authorized the promotion of Memay from sergeant to a $167,000-a-year lieutenant, despite the ongoing internal affairs probe.
At the time, he said Memay was a 20-year police veteran with an unblemished record and could be disciplined later during his six-month probation period if wrongdoing were found. With his promotion Mermay was reassigned from applicant investigation to the First Precinct and also stepped down from his role as one of two headquarters trustees of the Superior Officers Association. Police officials say Roth and Memay are not permitted to comment during the internal affairs investigation.