It is a well-known that CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe likes to make up the rules as he goes. Such was the case when CMPD took over the Charlotte Douglas International Airport Police.
Few people outside of law enforcement, understood that the CDIA police reported to Jerry Orr and have done so for as long as the Airport Police have existed. ( A Cedar Posts follower notes that CDIA Officer actually reported to a CMPD Captain. While true Orr still had absolute control over the CDIA Police) This fact, apparently annoyed Chief Monroe and a turf war had been raging since Chief Monroe came to power in 2008.
When Delvonte Tisdale breached the airport perimeter in 2010, the turf war escalated with Chief Monroe claiming that the CDIA police were grossly unqualified and poorly trained. The turf war finally came to a close when then City Manager Kurt Walton gave control of the CDIA Police to CMPD, with the City Council's blessing on December 15, 2012.
The turf war over the CDIA Police is what led to the airport battle still raging between factions of State and Local elected officials and caused the resignation or firing of long time airport manager Jerry Orr.
Once in control of CDIA Police, Chief Monroe's reign of terror was on, his first steps in dismantling the CDIA Police, was to declare that all CDIA officers would be merged into CMPD with retaining their full, "rank, salary longevity and benefits". Three weeks later Chief Monroe required that all CDIA be re-sworn, which was completed in January of 2013.
Shortly after these officers were sworn, Chief Monroe's department started to walk back the prior commitments by deciding that all CDIA Officers would be required to apply to CMPD, pass all background checks, physical standards and complete training at the police academy.
Chief Monroe's tactics and every changing requirements disrupted the personal lives of a dozen officers, who lost rank, seniority, civil service job protection and other rights. Turmoil was wide spread as CMPD Officers roamed aimlessly around the airport without purpose or direction and CDIA Officers sat huddled in their offices shaking their heads.
Enter the case of Mazzeo v. City Of Charlotte No. COA13-1388
Officer Dominick Mazzeo was hired as a CDIA Airport Safety Officer "ASO" in 2007. Oddly enough even though CDIA Police were autonomous, annual Performance Reviews and Development assessments known as "PDR's" were signed by CMPD supervisors.
Officer Mazzeo's reviews appear to support the claim that he was an exemplary officer. Never the less, Officer Mazzeo was terminated in June of 2013 and was later told he didn't have a right to a civil service board hearing because he was a probationary employee despite the verbal promises given by CMPD command.
Weeks later a trial court ruled that Mazzeo was entitled to a civil service board hearing. Of course Chief Monroe appealed. Then on August 5, 2014 the North Carolina Court of Appeals delivered a victory for Officer Mazzeo and many other CDIA Officers.
"We hold that the trial court's conclusion of law is supported by its findings of fact. The trial court's findings established that: (1) Plaintiff retained his same rank, badge number, employee identification number, and salary after the consolidation; (2) Plaintiff took identical oaths of office both upon his initial hiring in 2007 and after the consolidation in 2012; (3) from the time he was originally assigned to the CDIA until the date of his dismissal, Plaintiff had his PRDs reviewed and signed by supervising officers of the CMPD; and (4) the City contributed to his law enforcement 401k account in the same amount both before and after the consolidation."
The ruling is expected to have far reaching impact on many of the former CDIA Officers in support of the numerous civil suits and actions pending over the merger of CDIA and CMPD Officers.
You can read the entire court opinion affirming the lower courts decision and denying the City of Charlotte and CMPD's appeal here.