02/24/2012

Calif. cop with PTSD fights to get job back

John Stankewicz, 43, says the department did not consider the stress he was under last year when his performance suffered

Contra Costa Times

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — A police corporal who lost his job in January has filed for arbitration in a bid to be reinstated, and he's threatening to sue the city for wrongful termination.

John Stankewicz, 43, says the department did not consider the stress he was under last year when his performance suffered. And he claims part of the reason for his firing was retaliation because his role as head of the police officers union from 2007 to 2011 put him in conflict with the department's leadership.

Sgt. Bruce McPhillips, spokesman for the department, declined to comment on the matter Monday, other than to confirm that Stankewicz is no longer with the police force.

Stankewicz said the events leading to his firing began in spring, when he failed to appear in court to testify in a case involving a traffic violation and didn't respond to subpoenas to testify in two criminal cases. He said the department accused him of fabricating a memo explaining his absence in the traffic case.

Stankewicz denies fabricating the memo. As for the court appearances, he said he may have slipped up due to emotional stress related to his wife's recent health problems. The Navy veteran said he was diagnosed in the fall with post-traumatic stress disorder.

A firearms expert, Stankewicz was honored in 2010 by the Peninsula Council of Lions Clubs for putting together an exercise for law enforcement on responding to a school shooting.

Stankewicz said a date for arbitration hasn't been set. He hasn't decided yet whether to file a wrongful termination suit.

Copyright 2012 Contra Costa Newspapers

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