Court decision means fired Miami Twp. police officer will be reinstated Nov. 8

Douglas Hesler
Caption
Douglas Hesler

A Miami Twp. police officer who was terminated more than two years ago can be reinstated, as a long legal process recently ended with the Ohio Supreme Court recently declining to accept jurisdiction of the township’s appeal.

An arbitration decision had reversed officer Doug Hesler’s termination. Then in June, a Montgomery County Common Pleas Court judge upheld the arbitrator’s decision to reinstate Hesler, records show.

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The ruling includes he be paid “all lost wages and benefits with seniority restored, less any wages and benefits earned as a result of being employed elsewhere during the time period from May 21, 2019 until his date of return to employment.”

The township’s board of trustees appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, but Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor wrote Oct. 12 that “upon consideration of the jurisdictional memoranda filed in this case, the court declines to accept jurisdiction of the appeal …”

In recommending Hesler’s termination, Miami Twp. Police Chief Charlie Stiegelmeyer noted the veteran officer’s violation of the department’s recording policy, its code of conduct and core values, according to township documents. Hesler, who was a union leader and former K-9 handler, also made what the township called “racially insensitive” comments to a woman officer.

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His termination followed a claim by a department supervisor “that Hesler was being untruthful,” a ruling in June by appellate Judge Michael Tucker states.

Hesler’s attorney, Stephen Lazarus, told this news outlet Monday that his client is “just excited to get back to work and move on.” He said that is scheduled to occur Nov. 8.

Hesler was hired as a police officer in July 2019 by Perry Twp., but will be owed “significant back pay” by Miami Twp., because his Perry Twp. salary was not as much as the one paid to him by Miami Twp., Lazarus said.

The Dayton Daily News reached out to Miami Twp. trustees regarding the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision.

“When the details of Mr. Hesler’s performance were presented to the trustees, we believed that firing for cause was justified,” Morris said. “When Mr. Hesler challenged his firing for cause and an initial ruling fell in his favor, the trustees (current trustees Don Culp and John Morris and former trustee Doug Barry) were given an opportunity to settle the case and Mr. Hesler would have remained off our police force.”

Morris said he was in favor of that option as “avoiding court and the unknown future verdict for a palatable price is the best option,” but one trustee was adamant that he would never support any “buyouts.”

“Our legal counsel advised that they felt we could win on appeal,” he said. “The trustees ultimately voted to pursue appeal with knowledge of additional legal fees along the way.”

Morris said he disagreed with the final ruling, but respects the court’s decision.

Trustee Terry Posey Jr. said the litigation process began before his appointment as trustee in January 2020, and the matter now concludes with the court’s decision.

“As a lawyer and trustee, I respect the rule of law, the decisions of the courts and the contract between the township, the police department and its uniformed officers,” Posey said. “I personally look forward to Mr. Hesler returning to work.”

Culp could not be reached for comment before press deadlines Monday.

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