WEST CHESTER — Police Department Lt. Chris Daly is back on the job after being fired nearly nine months ago for failing to comply with the district’s COVID vaccination requirements, which required all employees to receive the vaccine.
Andrew McFarlane, president of the West Chester Police Association union, said Monday that the settlement will award Daly nearly nine months of back pay and no loss of rank. Borough Manager Sean Metrick said the Borough Council will vote on the settlement at the September council meeting.
Council President Michael Stephan said Daly is not playing by the rules. The board voted to suspend Daley without pay and then fire him.
“The lieutenant did not follow Borough’s policy and went to the Civil Service Commission,” Stefano said. “Through this process, Boro and the lieutenant were able to reach an agreement and he will return to work on Monday.”
McFarlane said about 45 officers greeted Daley after he returned to work Monday morning, and West Goshen police escorted him with flashing lights from his West Goshen Township home.
“All he wants to do is come to work and do his job,” McFarlane said. “He’s very excited to be back.”
Police Chief Jim Morehead welcomed Daly.
“I’m very excited to have Lt. Daley back where he needs to be,” Morehead said. “The department relies heavily on his knowledge and leadership.”
Mayor Lilian Debatiste oversees the police force and helped select four new police candidates who are likely to start next month.
“I’m very pleased to have Lt. Daley back on the job and resuming his duties,” Debatiste said. “His leadership qualities are an important part of our team.
“These past few months have been difficult, but I thank Chief Morehead and all West Chester Police officers for continuing to protect and serve despite the challenges they have faced.
I am also looking forward to the four new officers joining the force.”
Late last year, the district council voted unanimously to require all district employees to receive the COVID vaccine. The board voted to suspend Daley without pay in January and fired him in March.
As a supervisor, Daly is no longer a member of the union. Five other officers, who are members of the union, also refused to fire, but Metrick said they all received requests to be released and kept their jobs. An unknown number of members of the public works department have been laid off or fired.
McFarlane said one of the five officers was eventually shot and the other officer took a job with another department. The union president estimated the district spent $150,000 in various court fees for arbitration, civil service and other issues related to the vaccine mandate.
“They spent a ton of money and vaccinated one person, gave five exemptions, and one veteran resigned because he had such a bad taste in his mouth,” McFarlane said.
Tony Polito of the district’s three-member Civil Service Commission was satisfied the parties reached a settlement and the matter did not need to move forward.
District Manager Sean Metrick released the following statement Monday afternoon: “In the fall of 2021, the District Board voted to approve a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for all employees with a compliance deadline of December 31, 2021. Lt. Daly applied for an exception to the policy, which Borrow initially denied. His employment was suspended on January 1, 2022 and later terminated on March 31, 2022 as a result of non-compliance with the policy. Lt. Daly appealed the decision to the Civil Service Commission, and during that process the District reconsidered the release request and granted it subject to certain agreements. Lt. Daly was later reinstated and returned to work on Monday, August 22.”