APPELLATE COURT: OFFICER CAUGHT TEXT MESSAGING KNOWN FELON MUST BE FIRED

Appellate Court: Officer Caught Text Messaging Known Felon Must Be Fired

Nicholas Brais, a Corrections Officer, was terminated by Kankakee County and the FOP challenged his termination in arbitration.  The case stemmed from the County’s Major Crimes Task Force discovering a text message conversation between Officer Brais and David Caban, a long-time career criminal with multiple felony convictions and a known affiliation with the Latin Kings gang.  The conversation stated that Brais would alert Caban if his name was mentioned by fellow officers.

The Arbitrator concluded that Brais engaged in unbecoming conduct that brought substantial discredit upon him and his department but held that there was no evidence that Brais ever followed through on his promise to warn Caban and thus never transmitted any compromising information.  The Arbitrator held that Brais deserved to be disciplined for a 90 day unpaid suspension due to his previous poor disciplinary record.

The Court of Appeals overturned the Arbitrator’s decision. The Court stated that Brais’ promise to provide information concerning law enforcement investigations of known felons completely conflicts with the purpose of law enforcement.  The Court believed that termination was the correct punishment as Brais had not changed his conduct due to any of his prior six suspensions.  Kankakee v. Illinois FOP Labor Council, 2014 IL App (3d) 130662 (Ill. App. 2014).

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