Officer dismissed for second time in a year

FLINT TWP. — For the second time in less than a year, the township board has unaniminously voted to terminate Flint Township Police Officer Matthew Needham.

After a 90-minute closed session with board labor attorney Steve Shultz, the board returned to open session to fire Needham based on their private discussion and the recommendation of Police Chief George Sippert.

After the meeting, Sippert said that Needham was discharged for violation of work rules. He declined to elaborate because of confidentiality requirements.

The board’s decision to terminate Needham was unanimous. Trustee George Menoutes and Treasurer Sandra Wright were both absent. There was no discussion before the vote was taken.

Needham was previously fired in November 2011 after a similar 80-minute closed session with Shultz.

At that dismissal, Needham was accused of a violating several police department rules and regulations and making false statements during the investigation and hearing.

Needham, an 18-year member of the force, was present at that meeting but declined to comment on being fired other than to say he would appeal the decision through the police union.

Needham was not present at this week’s hearing but three police union representatives were. They were briefly called into the closed session for testimony but spent most of the time in the lobby awaiting the board’s decision.

Sippert said that Needham appealed last year’s termination through binding arbitration in which his termination was modified to a sevenmonth unpaid disciplinary suspension. He returned to the force in June.

Sippert said that any decision is subject to appeal but he did not know if Needham would appeal this latest termination.

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