We reported last April that Sheriff Larry Stelma fired Deputy Michael Tanis, the son of a local politician, because he lied about an incident in which he pepper-sprayed a suspect. Tanis challenged the firing through his union, the Kent County Law Enforcement Association, and, according to the Grand Rapids Press yesterday, an arbitrator has now ruled that Stelma has to give Tanis his job back.
The arbitrator, Joseph Girolamo, stated that firing Tanis for dishonesty was “too harsh” and then added that his ruling wasn’t intended to undermine Stelma’s policy of demanding the truth from his officers. Yeah, right. Now please remind me, whom did we elect to be sheriff? Stelma or Girolamo? So who should have the final say in how maintain discipline in the Kent County sheriff’s department? The man who answers to the voters or an unelected, unaccountable lawyer?