Judge rules in favor of Western

Mai Hoang

The Warren District Court ruled July 29 that Western can receive damages from two former campus police officers who left the department before fulfilling their three-year contracts.

Judge Brent Potter said in his judgment that Anthony Purcell and Jeffrey Welch each owe the university $4,000 for not fulfilling their commitments.

Both officers left the force 18 months early and accepted positions with the Henderson Police Department.

Lawyer Scott Laufenberg, who represented Western in this case, said the university spent time and money to train the officers only to be left with two vacancies when they left.

“I think this case affirms Western’s right to ask police officers to make this three-year commitment in return for the benefits they are giving them,” Laufenberg said. “. I think, ultimately, the law was behind the university in what it was trying to do.”

Potter said in his judgment that the officers’ resignation left the university “without enough qualified police officers to adequately protect the university and the public.”

General Counsel Deborah Wilkins said the use of these contracts by police departments are common.

“We have a number of contracts with newly hired police officers,” she said. “This (ruling) confirms that these contracts are legal and enforceable.”

Dan Rudloff, counsel for Purcell and Welch, said the judgment was in error because Potter did not make any ruling on the officers’ counterclaim.

That claim states that the university did not fully disclose the purpose and nature of the contract.

“It’s a viable counterclaim, and there was no indication in the judgment issued by the judge what he would do with the counterclaim,” he said.

Rudloff said the officers can either ask Potter to change his judgment or appeal their case to Warren Circuit Court.

Rudloff said he is not sure which route the officers will take in paying the university back.

“These officers are not wealthy,” he said. “I have to earn a living. Economic factors are the primary factor on what we’re going to do from here on out.”

Wilkins said the university will wait until the appeal period ends in September before they determine how Western will receive the $8,000 awarded in the case.

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]