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Watertown fires suspended police officer

Posted by Sarah Thomas  November 30, 2010 04:31 PM

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Watertown town manager Michael Driscoll announced today that Roberto Velazquez-Johnson, a police officer who has been under suspension since the summer, has been fired effective Nov. 29.

Driscoll said that a disciplinary hearing was held Oct. 19 after Velazquez-Johnson was accused of improperly serving a restraining order, and then allegedly lying about the serving in official documents and in person to superior officers.

After reviewing the hearing officer’s report and ‘‘other documents related to the hearing, I have concluded that just cause exists to terminate Officer Velasquez-Johnson’s employment with the Town," Driscoll said in a statement.

Town Councilor Angie Kounelis said in an earlier interview that the suspension began on July 9, which meant the town was paying for Velazquez-Johnson's administrative leave while the disciplinary process was pending. "My concern is that taxpayer dollars were used for such a protracted period," Kounelis said. "If someone is going to be reprimanded it should be done in a speedy and judicious manner."

In an interview today, Kounelis said that she did not condone Velazquez-Johnson's alleged actions, but felt that termination was an extreme response.

"I don't think what he did rises to the level of termination," Kounelis said. "Officer Velazquez-Johnson served the community for 14 years with an unblemished record. It's a very unfortunate situation, but I wish him well in the future."

Velazquez-Johnson's lawyer, Alan Shapiro, and representatives from the Watertown Police Department or Watertown Police Association could not be reached.

Sarah Thomas can be reached at sarah.m.thomas@gmail.com.

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