Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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April 23, 2013

Police officer fired

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — After being pink-slipped last week, a city police officer was fired outright Monday.

Officer Andrew R. Johnson III was terminated after a closed-door meeting of the Police Board, multiple sources confirmed Tuesday.

Neither board President James Gugliuzza, nor Police Chief Lawrence Eggert, would state the board's reason, citing confidentiality of personnel matters.

Both did say Johnson's firing was not related to his layoff, by Mayor Michael Tucker, last week.

Johnson received notice that he was being laid off effective this Friday due to police budgetary constraints.

Johnson and another officer were hired last year to be trained and ready to take the places of two veteran officers who were tentatively set to retire in late 2012. Only one of the veterans did retire, so in effect there is no money in the 2013 police budget to pay one of the new recruits.

Johnson reportedly was terminated on a police board finding that he violated departmental regulations involving officer safety while handling persons in LPD custody. Eggert would neither confirm nor deny that.

Johnson's termination is "absolutely not" an attempt by the Police Board to protect City Hall in the event the police officers' union tried to challenge Johnson's layoff, Gugliuzza added. "I don't play games like that," he said.

As a new recruit, Johnson had probationary employment status for one year. He is "not the first (to not) make it through the probationary period," Gugliuzza said. "He's a good kid, I'll say that."

Johnson could not be reached to comment on the police board's decision Tuesday.

Since he was terminated, Johnson will not have callback rights to fill the next vacancy at LPD as a laid-off officer would have.

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