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DeWitt police officer fired after pulling a gun on a Black teen was rehired, but not as a cop

DeWitt & St. Johns
Posted at 5:01 PM, Jan 06, 2022

DEWITT, Mich. — DeWitt police officer Chad Vorce was fired in May after he pulled a gun twice on an unarmed Black teenager who was delivering newspapers.

Last month, arbitrator Thomas Barnes ordered the city of DeWitt to reinstatehim, which it did.

But not as a police officer.

"He's not allowed to do police law enforcement work, because he does not have a license," DeWitt Mayor Sue Leeming said. "His license is inactive, and that happened upon termination."

Leeming said the arbitrator's decision was a poor one, and the city was very disappointed.

"In my mind, it's very frustrating because the city has no appeal process. Unless you think the arbitrator — and we can prove the arbitrator — was fraudulent, or wildly out of line misconduct, we cannot," Leeming said. "There's no appeal."

By law, the city had to comply.

"Officer Vorce is working for the city for other departments doing other things," Leeming said. "He's not in a police car, he's not in uniform, he does not have a gun."

Vorce did not respond to requests for comment, but Leeming said he is in the process of trying to reactivate his inactive license.

"And that is a separate process from the arbitration process. The process to reinstate his license for law enforcement officer is done through MCOLES, which stands for the Michigan Commission of Law Enforcement Standards, and they do their own review, they do an investigation," Leeming said.

Executive Director for MCOLES, Tim Bourgeois, said employment decisions are made by the local or state agency, "however, the decision on licensing — per the legislature — rests with the state, and they created MCOLES to do that."

In 2017, the legislature changed the MCOLES Act to require screening for character fitness every time a license needs to be reinstated.

"The legislature changed the act to require anyone in an inactive state to also go back through character fitness assessment," Bourgeois said. "And that's simply an examination of an individual's past work record, school record, social record, a comprehensive background investigation to determine whether an individual has the requisite character fitness to be a law enforcement officer because it is a very powerful, very trusted position."

Vorce should have an answer in two to five months.

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