State board reviewing police union grievance

Police-badgeNAUGATUCK — A grievance filed by the Naugatuck Police Union on behalf of Officer Carl Schaaf has been sent to the state Board of Mediation and Arbitration.

The union objected last August to the one-day unpaid suspension issued to Schaaf after he took a pit bull while on duty to a Stamford veterinarian, where the pit bull bit another dog, resulting in the department being charged nearly $700.

The incident occurred July 5. Police Chief Christopher Edson suspended Schaaf on July 26 after an internal review.

Edson, the borough human resources department and the police commission have all denied the grievance.

“The discipline issued is based on a thorough review of the facts and is not excessive,” Edson wrote.

Schaaf, who has worked in the department for eight years, was helping to oversee the borough’s animal control facility after the police department took it over two years ago.

In a memorandum to Capt. Todd Brouillette, Schaaf explained that a pit bull named Sobie had been quarantined at the pound after attacking another dog. Her owner, Fred Davino, is a disabled Vietnam-era combat veteran who could not drive, had no family in the state and was unable to pay for Sobie’s basic care, Schaaf wrote.

Schaaf wrote that he found out about a program that would vaccinate, neuter and microchip Sobie for free in Stamford. Davino was unable to find someone to drive the dog there, so Schaaf volunteered to do it.

While Schaaf was walking Sobie into the hospital on a leash, she broke free and attacked another pit bull, Lennox, who was with his owner, Arthur Haas, in the parking lot. The two dogs were briefly entangled before staff members separated them, and Lennox did not appear to have been bitten, Schaaf wrote.

Haas reported to police that nearly five hours later, he noticed his dog bleeding from the groin area and saw a puncture wound on the dog’s genitals. He took Lennox to a veterinary hospital and submitted the bill, totaling $691.80, to borough police.

In another report, Brouillette wrote that Schaaf did not notify anyone before taking Sobie to Stamford and did not report the bite to Stamford police or animal control officers.

Brouillette concluded that Schaaf had been inattentive to his duties, left a post without permission and created a conflict of interest when he got the dog taken care of on behalf of the police department.

Edson wrote that Schaaf had exhibited poor judgment and subjected the department to liability.

“He acted without any authority and then failed to report the incident after it happened,” Edson wrote. “All of this could have been avoided had he discussed his intentions with a supervisor in advance.”

Union members are not allowed to discuss grievances with the press, said Detective Paul Markette, union president.
Schaaf makes more than $65,000 per year under the union contract.

His personnel file also contains praise from a Summit Road woman who said he consoled her when her cat died, and from an Andrew Avenue woman who said he was professional and respectful while searching her house after her son was involved in a robbery.