MOUNT VERNON — Former police sergeant Mark Perkins told the News his goal for the upcoming arbitration is simply to go back to work.
“I want to be able to go back to the Mount Vernon Police Department,” said Perkins. “I want the Mount Vernon Police Department to go back to the honorable department it was in the past. You had Chief (Tom) Bartlett, Capt. (George) Curry and you were surrounded by superior officers that had integrity and would teach you things you could learn.”
News File Photo
Mount Vernon Police Chief Tom Bartlett, right, presents Corporal Mark Perkins with his 2004 Officer of the Year Award at the Police Department.
An argument Perkins plans to make during his arbitration is that he claims due process was not provided before he was terminated on April 19. Although he did not appear at an April 18 pre-disciplinary hearing, Perkins said he was told later that day by his local union representative and his Fraternal Order of Police representative that the hearing had been postponed until April 25.
Two factors played into the decision as to why Perkins did not attend the April 18 hearing, according to John Scaccia, Perkins’ attorney. Scaccia said an anonymous source informed Perkins he could be arrested if he entered city property for the meeting. The letter informing Perkins of his administrative leave prohibited him from city property. Perkins was also lead to believe that his local representative would not be attending the hearing. Based on the information presented, Scaccia advised Perkins not to attend. However, that representative was in attendance, a fact Perkins said he did not know until after the fact.
Scaccia said he had communicated with Chip McConville, city law director, on April 19 by electronic means.
“The impression I was left with by the end of the day was we were all going to meet up and take care of this stuff the next week,” said Scaccia. “There was no indication in that letter that Mark was about to be suspended, fired summarily without any hearing, without any opportunity to clear his name or show he shouldn’t be fired. Having been denied that, I feel like they violated his constitutional rights.” According to the termination letter sent to Perkins on April 19, the city wasn’t required to hold the postponed hearing. “After consultation with the Law Director, it has been determined that your absence from the hearing is a waiver of this proceeding. As a result, this letter informs you of the conclusion the City has reached regarding your employment,” stated the letter, signed by Dave Glass, safety-service director.
On the record
Since Perkins filed a lawsuit against city and police department leaders, and his termination was reported, the News has made numerous requests for an interview. Those offers were always declined, until now.
“With all the information that’s coming out about some of the issues that is wrong with city government and city leadership, people need to understand this is not an abortion,” Scaccia said. “The recent report of events do not display something that was not just a mistake, that were not something that just happened, just something that was not going to reoccur ever again. ... We are not going to sit back and not tell the truth or pretend it was an isolated incident. This is business as usual for these folks.”
While Perkins’ career is on the line with this arbitration, he said he wants the public, and members of the police department, to know that his efforts aren’t completely self-serving.
“What they (those named in the lawsuit) have put this department through willingly, and what they have been willing to do for their own best interest, is why we are [speaking on the record],” Perkins said.
During the interview, Perkins shared with the News recorded conversations between himself and Capt. George Hartz and Glass. The taping of conversations, he said, was a method of “self-preservation” over the years because he said he could see a pattern of behavior unfold and he wanted proof of what he was seeing.
When questioned whether or not he provided an audio disc to the News with conversations regarding the police department impound lot, Perkins admitted he was behind the anonymous submission and said he had previously shared the information with city leaders.
“The information that was released was the same information that the city was made aware of,” Perkins said. “The city decided on inaction. ... Dave Glass, George Hartz, Mike Merrilees. During numerous conversations.
“The big motive is essentially he had information,” Scaccia said. “He is still a police officer, he is still an investigator, he is still someone who is concerned about his community.”
While the News did use the audio for a story published on July 1, Scaccia said he is disappointed that investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Investigations have not made contact seeking information they believe would be helpful in its current investigation of Merrilees and Sgt. Robert “Kit” Morgan.
“At this point in the juncture, we have come forward. We’ve got information, we’ve got more information and we are ready, willing and able to talk to the folks involved. Mark is not asking for anything in return. Mark is just doing what any good citizen would do in an incident like this.”
Dave Glass, city safetyservice director, declined to comment citing it would be inappropriate considering the upcoming arbitration and federal lawsuit.
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