Deputy case is settled
A year-and-a-half investigation into possible misconduct by a Faribault County Sheriff’s deputy, Shane Dulac, his eventual termination from employment, and the subsequent filing of a grievance for wrongful termination, has finally come to an end.
A state arbitrator, Stephen Befort, released his findings in the case last Wednesday, Sept. 21. In the 16-page document, Befort found that one of the complaints against Dulac did justify his termination from employment, and he denied the grievance.
Deputy Dulac had been placed on paid administrative leave on April 2, 2015, pending an investigation into an incident that occurred on March 26, 2015 at the Derby Inn Bar in Guckeen.
The complaint said that Dulac, who was off duty at the time, discussed having three county employees, not employed by the sheriff’s department, purchase two Vicodin pills from a suspected drug dealer so that the dealer could be arrested.
One of the county employees did make the purchase without Dulac being aware of it. When he was notified of the purchase, Dulac told the employee to turn the pills into the Sheriff’s Office. However, Dulac did not immediately take them into his possession as evidence, which would have been proper procedure, the complaint says. The pills were not taken in to the sheriff until a week later.
In May of 2015, while Dulac was on paid leave, an internal investigation found that he had at six different times pointed his loaded weapon at four separate fellow employees who were also deputies, when he had been on duty.
The Watonwan County Attorney’s Office conducted a criminal investigation into the Derby Inn Bar incident, and declined to pursue criminal charges. However, an internal affairs investigation by the Worthington Police Department concluded that Dulac had engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer.
The Dakota County Attorney’s Office investigated the gun-pointing allegation and also declined to file any criminal charges. However, Wright County law enforcement officials conducted the internal investigation into the incident and found Dulac had violated several county policies and found his conduct was unbecoming an officer and that it had created a dangerous and hostile work environment.
After issuing a Notice of Intent to Terminate Employment dated Sept. 28, 2015, the county terminated Deputy Dulac’s employment on Oct. 12, 2015.
Dulac’s union, Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc., filed the grievance for termination without just cause and the case was heard in May and July of this year.
As far as the Derby Inn incident, the union argued that Dulac had not actually encouraged the employees to buy the pills, and he had properly urged the one employee to turn the pills over to the Sheriff’s Office, when he learned of the deal.
And, as far as the gun-pointing incidents, the union said Dulac was just joking around, not threatening anyone, and that he acknowledges that this was inappropriate behavior. In addition, the union argued that the penalty of discharge was too harsh of a sanction, especially since there was a lack by the county of progressive discipline and because Dulac, who had been employed by the Sheriff’s Office since 1997, has expressed remorse for his behavior.
In his conclusions, arbitrator Befort said that if the incident at the Derby Inn Bar was “the only misconduct at issue, I would not sustain the discharge penalty.”
However, Befort said in his report that he agreed with the county that the gun-pointing incidents were extremely serious misconducts.
“Pointing a loaded weapon without a law enforcement reason at another person is extremely dangerous,” Befort wrote. “I believe that Deputy Dulac’s remorse is genuine. But I do not think that even genuine remorse is sufficient to repair the relationship between Deputy Dulac and the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office. I find that the County has carried its burden to show that discharge is an appropriate remedy in this case.”
“The grievance is denied.”