NIAGARA FALLS – Four more members of the Niagara Falls Police Department sued the city last week, apparently encouraged by the legal success of four colleagues, demanding a promotion to the rank of detective.
In 2012, four men who had been working as crime scene officers won a ruling that the work they had been doing for years fell under the classification of detective duties.
State Supreme Court Justice Ralph A. Boniello III ordered the four – Mark C. Martinez, Jason G. Sykes, Todd N. Faddoul and Shawn S. Arndt – to be moved up to detective, which gave them pay raises of $3,000 to $3,500 per year.
Boniello’s September 2012 ruling was upheld by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court on Dec. 27.
Now, four former members of the defunct Roving Anti-Crime Unit – Nicolas Granto, Richard Fleck, Kevin Henderson and George McDonell – are making the same legal effort.
In a suit filed by attorney Sean J. MacKenzie of Magavern Magavern & Grimm, the same firm that won the crime scene officers’ case, the four plaintiffs assert that their duties with the RAC unit fell under the heading of detective duties.
The state Civil Service Law says that if a police officer does a job for at least 18 months, the officer is entitled to a permanent promotion to the title, salary and benefits of that job.
Granto became a Niagara Falls patrolman in May 2004. Fleck and Henderson were hired in September 2006 and McDonell in August 2005.
Granto and Fleck joined RAC in November 2008, and Henderson and McDonell did so in November 2010. The unit was shut down in January 2013.
Edward P. Perlman, the attorney who handled the crime scene officers’ successful suit, wrote a letter to the city in March, asking for detective rank for Granto, Fleck, Henderson and McDonell.
The argument was that the men had been reporting to a detective captain in the Narcotics Intelligence Unit during their time as RAC officers and had been doing work that corresponded to the duties of a detective as set forth in the Police Department’s general work order of July 17, 2011.
The four posted affidavits saying they received similar training to that given to detectives and often worked in plain clothes instead of uniforms.
The city didn’t respond to the letter, and the city Law Department did not return a call from The Buffalo News on Friday.