Griffith panel urges council to settle sexual discrimination suit
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent May 10, 2013 9:10PM
Updated: June 13, 2013 7:19PM
GRIFFITH — The Griffith Safety Board has recommended the Town Council accept a consent decree issued by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding a sexual discrimination suit filed by a Griffith officer against the previous Griffith Police administration.
Safety Board President Jim Marker declined to comment on the decree’s specifics but read a statement into the record during the Thursday night Safety Board meeting. The charges were filed at least two years ago.
“We have received a consent decree by the U.S. Department of Justice, which was previously provided to the board attorney (Brent Torrenga),” Marker said. “This consent decree contains allegations of sexual discrimination by the previous administration.
“In the interest of saving the taxpayers the cost of litigation, the Safety Board recommends the Town Council adopts and agrees to the consent decree.”
Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance also declined comment because his administration wasn’t part of the original suit. But he said he’s glad the issue has been resolved.
“The department can now move forward and grow,” Mance said.
The Safety Board also took under advisement Mance’s report on the status Cpl. Hector Arroyo, who’s been on medical leave since shortly after the start of the year. The report said Arroyo has been unable to pass medical fitness exams that would allow him to return to duty.
The report said Arroyo was given two exams — one by a department-sanctioned physician and the other a physician of Arroyo’s choice — and both determined he can’t perform the physically demanding aspects of a police officer. Arroyo can, however, perform light duties.
The report, however, said there are no “light duty positions on the department currently, nor is the department in a position to create one.”
“To create (a light-duty position) would create financial hardship for the department and compromise the department’s ability to protect the citizens of Griffith,” the report stated.
In other business, the Safety Board hired three new firefighters who’ve completed their Fire 1 and 2 certifications; commissioned Gino, the town’s first K-9 officer; and accepted Detective Sgt. Ron Kottka’s retirement. Kottka was the police chief until November, when he was removed from the position amid allegations of misconduct.