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October 04. 2012 1:14PM

Fremont police chief, 66, sues town over being fired claiming discrimination

BRENTWOOD - The former Fremont police chief fired in August after 23 years on the job has filed suit against the town, arguing that he should be reinstated because selectmen had no grounds to dismiss him.

In the suit brought Wednesday in Rockingham County Superior Court, Neal Janvrin accuses selectmen of removing him from his part-time position through an unlawful "discriminatory" firing.

Neither selectmen nor the town's attorney have given a reason publicly for the firing, but the suit included a copy of the notice of dismissal handed to the 66-year-old Janvrin on Aug. 20 - the day he was removed with state police troopers standing by.

The notice signed by Selectmen Annmarie Scribner, Brett Hunter and Greta St. Germain, lists five reasons for the dismissal, but, the suit said, provided no details of any alleged misconduct.

"You are physically unstable in the field causing your fellow officers to constantly watch over you. This condition threatens the safety of the other officers whose attention should be exclusively on handling the incident which prompted the need for the police response," selectmen wrote.

The notice continued: "Your attitude and treatment of the officers in the department is constantly confrontational and demonstrates an unreasonable lack of respect for your fellow officers. Your judgments and decision making are inconsistent and demonstrate memory lapses, lack of comprehension, and unpredictability."

Selectmen also claimed Janvrin failed to observe established procedures and protocols.

"Examples of this are incidents involving a sexual abuse of a minor and closing arrest warrants."

Selectmen also said he was unable to meet the requirements necessary to effectively use the firearm he carried "to the degree expected of police officers."

Janvrin last qualified with his firearm in May 2011 and attempted to re-qualify before his dismissal but failed because the weapon malfunctioned, the suit said. Another officer tried to qualify with the same weapon after Janvrin was fired and experienced a similar malfunction, the suit said.

To refute the firearms charge, Janvrin asked Sandown Police Chief Joseph Gordon to conduct the same qualification exam as he would for other officers on Oct. 1.

According to an affidavit signed by Gordon, who is a state certified instructor, Janvrin executed two qualifying rounds and "was able to exceed the standards for qualifying set by the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council."

The suit, filed on his behalf by Manchester attorney Andru Volinsky, said Janvrin denied making inconsistent decisions and is "unaware of any policies he has violated."

He also maintains that he hasn't previously been disciplined or warned of inconsistent decision making or policy violations. The suit said that his personnel file is "completely devoid of any notation of any problems in these areas or any confirmation of discipline of any sort or kind."

Janvrin is described as an "administrative chief" in a policy adopted by selectmen in October 2010.

The policy states that if selectmen feel the chief is "unable to perform the full function of a police chief with respect to patrol or investigative functions or the physical or other demands normally associated with the duties and responsibilities of a police chief, the board shall instruct the police chief to limit his activities with respect to the direction and control of the employees of the police department and the operation of the department" to duties and responsibilities that involve administration, supervision and oversight, the suit said.

"In light of the October 2010 job description, which has never been revoked, the town's assertion of a physical inability to perform as justification for the termination is not credible and does not constitute substantial cause as that term has been defined by the New Hampshire Supreme Court," the suit said.

Janvrin insists that he's still able to perform the functions of the job as defined by selectmen.

The suit asks the court to overturn the firing, clear his personal record of the termination, pay back wages "and the value of other lost benefits," reimburse him for legal fees.

jschreiber@newstote.com


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