The off-duty optics of a recent high-profile criminal case of someone in blue are too much for his police chief and mayor to bear. So, they have moved to terminate him.
But the prediction here is that he will beat the firing rap, and likely return to the force.
Pawtucket School Resource Officer Daniel Dolan put himself in quite the jackpot back on an early summer evening in June of 2021. While heading home to Coventry traveling southbound on Route 95 in an unregistered truck with an open beer container, he was passed by the driver of an Audi traveling at an extremely high speed, which, according to court testimony, may have exceeded 120 mph. Reportedly miffed while he pulled off the highway onto a local artery, he identified the speeders ahead and decided to give chase with the stated intent of giving them a piece of his mind.
The sports car, driven by an 18-year-old with two companions, had pulled into a pizza shop to pick up an order just before closing. Dolan, who was armed, pulled up behind and angled his truck toward them, jumped out in his street clothes flashing his badge (where he had no jurisdiction) and ended up, because he said the vehicle came at him and he feared for his life, shooting his service weapon through the side window of the car, hitting the young driver in the shoulder.
For this vigilante circus act, he was criminally charged and suspended from his job without pay.
A year and half later, he walked out of court last month deemed an innocent man.
You never know what a jury is going to do. Some good defense lawyering, the perceived attitude and consistency of the victim and companions and a likely disdain for the speed seemingly added up to a swift 3-hour verdict.
Just last week, after coughing up retroactive pay, the city lowered the boom with Mayor Don Grebien’s announcement that read in part:
“On Jan. 26, a jury found Officer Dolan not guilty of four criminal charges. Throughout the criminal investigation, the Pawtucket Police Department conducted a parallel, internal investigation. Lack of criminality does not mean that an officer’s conduct was appropriate or that it represented the high standards to which we hold our public safety officials.”
Now begins the process of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. Three police personnel will hear the termination case. One chosen by the city, one by Dolan, and a negotiated third.
LEOBOR, as it is known, is under considerable heat in the General Assembly given national and local high-profile cases and frustration with a 50-year-old system that too often handcuffs elected and appointed management and protects police officers from accountability.
Expect that heat to turn to full flame when the termination effort fails.
Do the math.
This was not a case reflecting a national television pattern of an on-duty police officer abusing someone under arrest, and it has no racial implications.
Moreover, repeat, he walked out of court not guilty.
It is reasonable to project the officer panel will see the attempt to fire Dolan as more of a political statement than a practical outcome.
Yes, it seems crazy to many that a temperamental gun-wielding cop might be returned to the force, ironically one who had a gig working daily with teens.
The guess is the best the city might hope for is a further suspension and reassignment away from the education environment.
And some serious anger management counseling before Officer Dolan returns to the streets.
Dan Yorke is the PM Drive Host on 99.7/AM 630 WPRO, Dan Yorke State of Mind weekends on Fox Providence/WPRI 12 and owns communications/crisis consulting firm DYCOMM LLC.
If reinstated anywhere in the future as a police officer, I believe 100 percent Mr. Dolan will be in the news again...except it will be him who is either shot and/or at the receiving end of whatever self-defense measures are employed by any reasonable person to defend themselves against this very-publicly known, unhinged vigilant who has already walked free once from committing the violent crime he instigated.
No one in their right mind will allow themselves to be pulled over, let alone have any interaction with him. Anyone seeing him in their rear view mirror is most likely not going to be so willing to allow him to pull his BS a second time.
The LEOBOR is a terrorist document designed to protect the worst in our society.
The worst in our society is the waste who killed the reporter in Orlando
Officer Dolan was found Not Guilty by a Superior Court Jury in less than an hour. Game Set Match! The jury spoke and stated Officer Dolan was justified in every action he took! Jury trumps Pawtucket Police Policy. Isn’t the Jury the Holy Grail of Justice? I’m thankful for Police Officers like Daniel Dolan.
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