BOSTON — An Appeals Court panel on Monday upheld State Police rules for retraining officers who seek to rejoin the force after a disability retirement, rejecting claims from a retired trooper who complained about his treatment at the academy.
The statute giving the State Police colonel authority to require police academy training for those seeking reinstatement more than three years after retiring on disability is "not ambiguous," Appeals Court Justice Joseph Ditkoff wrote in his decision.
A veteran of police departments in Warren, East Brookfield and the former metropolitan police, Arthur Cournoyer joined the State Police in 1992 and suffered a "severe injury" while on duty in 1998, leading to his involuntary retirement in 2000.
Cournoyer underwent several operations and rehabilitation before obtaining a job working for the Worcester County sheriff's department and he also earned a private investigator's license.
More than a dozen years later, Cournoyer sought to rejoin the State Police, enrolling in the academy in 2015 where at 58 he was at least 20 years older than the rest of the class, according to the decision.
At the academy, Cournoyer claimed he was subjected to "hazing," such as being "yelled at for 'eyeballing' a drill instructor, being required to chant while holding a tray of food, and being required to eat and stop eating when directed," according to the decision.
On the first day, Cournoyer met with the commander, saying he thought the training was inappropriate for an experienced former trooper, and after being told the training was mandatory he "promptly departed the academy and thereby failed to complete the required training," Ditkoff wrote.
In its ruling, the high court concluded, "By its plain language, the statute grants the colonel discretion to require different retraining requirements for reinstatement depending on the length of the disability retirement . . . The training prescribed by the colonel and applied by the department in this case is within the broad discretion afforded the colonel."