Lehigh Valley

Fountain Hill police chief not happy about fired officer returning to work

Arbitrator overruled termination

Ft. Hill officer reinstated

FOUNTAIN HILL, Pa. - A fired Fountain Hill, Lehigh Co., police officer is returning to work Monday, and the police chief is not happy about it.

An arbitrator has ruled Grady Cunningham should return to work Monday, reported Chief Ed Bachert, who added the arbitrator's ruling is binding.

He said Cunningham was fired for using excessive force, falsifying reports and having a firearm in a locked cell.

 "If you can't terminate someone for using excessive force and conduct unbecoming an officer, what can you terminate them for?" asked the chief.

Fountain Hill borough council voted unanimously to terminate Cunningham on Feb. 4.

Bachert explained Cunningham was involved in the arrest of  Richard McLaughlin for public drunkenness and harassment on June 4, 2012.  He said the incident that led to Cunningham's firing occurred when Cunningham brought McLaughlin back to a holding cell. The fired police officer allegedly threw the handcuffed suspect to the floor.

Bachert said a suit was filed by McLauglin against the department.

Bachert said Cunningham was with the department when he took over as chief in 2011. He had been hired by former police chief Tim Stevens.

When asked what kind of background check would have been done on Cunningham prior to his hiring, Bachert replied: "Obviously, not a good one."

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