Date: January 8, 2010
Subject: Arbitrator Reinstates Cape Coral Police Officer Curt Suskevich
An independent arbitrator has reinstated Cape Coral Police Officer Curt Suskevich, who was terminated by Cape Police Chief Rob Petrovich on January 6, 2009. Suskevich will return to duty on Monday, January 11. The City was notified of the decision yesterday.
Suskevich was terminated for “conduct unbecoming an officer” after he and his wife were arrested on August 17, 2008 in Key West. Key West police officers were called to their vacation home that evening following a report of a gunshot. Officers searched the home and found marijuana in the house, which Suskevich and his wife claimed belonged to her. Suskevich was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana. The criminal charges against Officer Suskevich eventually were dismissed, and the Cape Coral Police Department then launched an internal investigation into the incident, which resulted in his dismissal. Per the collective bargaining agreement, the Fraternal Order of Police and the City of Cape Coral entered binding arbitration over the dismissal.
While the arbitrator, Thomas G. Humphries, agreed with most of the conclusions in the department’s internal investigation, when he took into account all factors, he determined a lesser penalty was warranted. Humphries noted in his decision that Suskevich was not found to possess or use illegal drugs, was not convicted of criminal misconduct and had a meritorious record in his 10 years as a police officer. At the same time, he dismissed Suskevich’s contention that his wife had “cleverly and carefully concealed her illegal activities” from him.
“The portrait of the Grievant as merely a duped husband emerges from the record as a feeble attempt by both husband and wife to establish his naivete when it came to her drug use,” Humphries wrote in his decision. “To conclude he had not been aware of his wife’s drug use…is to cast a blind eye upon clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.”
Humphries ruled that Suskevich be reinstated to the service of the Cape Coral Police Department at his previous pay level, which is $59,945. However, based on the seriousness of the infraction, the arbitrator denied the request for back pay, pension credits and benefits. Humphries also required Suskevich to enter into a two-year, “Last Chance” agreement whereby he would be subject to random drug testing and discharge at the discretion of the Police Department for any proven violation of department rules.