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Second Williamsport police officer sues over lack of promotion

A city officer has joined a currently working city police lieutenant in a similar lawsuit against Mayor Derek Slaughter and the city of Williamsport and former Mayor Gabriel J. Campana in claims of being overlooked for promotions due to filing lawsuits.

Police Lt. Fred L. Miller IV of Clinton County is suing Campana, Slaughter and the city. Police Lt. Steven Helm in April also made similar claims, according to papers in U.S. Middle District Court.

Miller is a high-ranking representative of the police officers’ union, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 29, which is the bargaining agent for police.

On Nov. 6, 2018, Miller filed a civil rights complaint. The complaint was over Miller’s belief the union’s status and activities were vitally important to protect the interest of police officers and the general public.

He pursued claims against the city to preserve the union status, to ensure associational viability, and to stop the city and its supervisors from engaging in unlawful anti-union activities in violation of the public trust and public interest, court records stated.

On or about June 14, 2019, Miller entered into a settlement agreement and the lawsuit was subsequently dismissed on June 27, 2019 by the parties pursuant to stipulation, with the right to reinstate on or before August 26, 2019, if the settlement was not completed.

In the fall of 2018, former police Chief David Young announced his intention to retire.

In January 2019, Damon Hagan was appointment by Campana as the chief of police.

Hagan advocated his desires to have Helm be appointed to the assistant chief position, as the most qualified police officer in the department.

In January 2019, Aaron LeVan, instead, was promoted by Campana to the assistant chief position.

LeVan was less qualified than either Helm or Miller, both of whom were interested in the position of assistant chief, but LeVan had not filed a lawsuit against the city for First Amendment Retaliation, according to the suit.

In or about September of 2019, LeVan stepped down as assistant chief.

Miller contended that he was overlooked for promotion due to his filing lawsuits on behalf of the union.

Campana also promoted Patrolman Mark Sechrist to assistant chief after LeVan stepped down in September 2019.

A year later after Slaughter became mayor, the suit states six officers expressed interest in becoming assistant chief and filling a new position of captain of detectives.

Miller also contends he was overlooked in favor of Agent Justin Snyder most recently by Slaughter.

Slaughter has referred any comment to counsel. Campana, meanwhile, said the suits are frivolous and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Campana said as mayor he and Slaughter have a right to appoint who they want to those positions.

Miller, who was awarded $35,000 in the prior settlement, is seeking unspecified damages in excess of $50,000 contending violations of his free speech rights.

The case is before U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann.

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