Niagara Gazette

Courts

December 31, 2013

Falls loses appeal in cop case

The City of Niagara Falls has lost an appeal in a rank and pay-grade case involving four members of the police department's Crime Scene Unit. 

In a ruling issued Friday, the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department affirmed a lower court's ruling that found four investigators with the city police department deserved to be designated as detectives and to receive comparable pay for their job duties. 

The latest decision upholds a 2012 ruling by State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Boniello III who sided with the investigators who argued that, as a result of being temporarily assigned to the same duties as detectives, they deserved to be classified and compensated as detectives. 

"Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to petitioners, the prevailing parties, we conclude that the court's decision is supported by a fair interpretation of the evidence," the Appellate Court judges found. 

The four investigators — Jason Sykes, Marc Martinez, Todd Faddoul and Shawn Arndt — were represented in the case by local attorney Edward Perlman of the law firm Magavern, Magavern and Grimm. 

Perlman said the position of his clients was backed by civil service law which requires any officer serving in the role of detective for a period of 18 consecutive months to be designated as a detective and paid accordingly. As a result of the higher court's ruling, Perlman said the difference in pay between officer and detective amounts to roughly $3,500 more per year for each plaintiff.  He said his clients also will be entitled to retroactive pay. 

"The difference in pay isn't great," Perlman said. "It does give them seniority rights and things like that."

When asked for comment on the Appellate Division ruling, Niagara Falls Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson said: "We haven't had an opportunity to meet with the mayor, the city administrator and the police superintendent to discuss what impact this will have." 

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