Bring Police K9 Chip Home to his Family
This petition made change with 228,441 supporters!
January 24, 2018 - UPDATE - To all of our friends and supporters:
We realize that aside from some posts about Chip and Charlie's life at home, we have not provided many updates. This was intentional as Gil had several proceedings to work through and it was important to us to let those proceedings occur. We are pleased to share some findings with you now.
At the time Chip was taken from Gil, Gil was involuntarily transferred from the K-9 Section. It was also during this time that statements were made about Gil, his performance as an employee and as a K-9 handler, and actions that he was alleged to have taken regarding Chip. Police department management said things, implied things, and intentionally left things unsaid regarding Gil's transfer and Chip's removal from Gil's home. You may recall that there was an
attachment to a memo given to Gil but no one on the police department would admit to writing it. When you, our supporters, questioned the actions of the police department, you were told 'you don't know the whole story.' When the media asked questions, they were told 'there's more to the story' or 'it's a personnel matter and we can't talk about it.'
Gil filed a lawsuit against Montgomery County, Maryland, the Montgomery County Police Department, Assistant Chief Betsy Davis, Captain Robert Bolesta, and Sergeant Mary Davis alleging defamation of character.
In addition, Gil filed a grievance alleging that his transfer was without merit, was arbitrary and capricious and was in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the county and FOP Lodge 35.
JURY AWARDS DAMAGES TO OFFICER FONES
On Friday, June 23, 2017, after hearing several days of testimony, a jury in Montgomery County, Maryland ruled in favor of Officer Fones in his lawsuit alleging defamation of character (Circuit Court case 420238V). The jury found FOR Officer Fones in his case against defendant Montgomery County Government and defendant Robert Bolesta, Captain and former director of
the Special Operations Division which houses the K-9 Section. The jury also considered and awarded damages to Officer Fones.
Those that followed this story from the beginning were told many times by police officials and county government officials that "you don't know the whole story" and "there's more to this story". Well, we now have the whole story and, in this civil action, so did the jury, who unanimously took issue with the treatment of Gil, his transfer and K-9 Chip's removal. This case is currently under appeal.
ARBITRATOR RULES FOR OFFICER FONES IN GRIEVANCE HEARING
Orders reinstatement to K-9 Section and back pay
The matter of Gil's transfer was grieved and arbitrated. On November 21, 2017, after 18 days of hearings, which included testimony favorable to Officer Fones by the County’s own expert, Arbitrator Herb Fishgold found, inter alia, that the transfer of Officer Fones from the K-9 Section was arbitrary and capricious.
There were instances where testimony did not match what was documented in the written reports and evaluations of Gil and Chip. There were statements and written notes that were not corroborated by the videos that were taken. The police department's own expert witness’ testimony under oath discredited many of the insinuations and allegations against Officer Fones.
On November 21, 2017, it was ordered by the arbitrator that Gil be reinstated to the next available position in the K-9 Section, that he receive back pay, and that he be made whole. On January 9, 2018, FOP Lodge 35 filed in the Circuit Court to certify the Arbitration Award. On January 10, 2018, Officer Fones was notified of his transfer back to the K-9 Section, effective February 4, 2018.
Gil will be assigned a new partner and he plans to begin training as soon as possible. He is looking forward to getting back to the work he loves so much.
As to the other involved parties, Assistant Chief Betsy Davis and Captain Robert Bolesta have both retired. Lieutenant Eric Stancliff, deputy director of SOD, who supervised Chip's evaluations, has been transferred to another division. The supervisors who were in place when Gil's transfer and Chip's removal occurred are still assigned to the K-9 Section.
Transcripts of testimony are still being reviewed to determine if statements made under oath by some witnesses in these proceedings merit further investigation.
There are not sufficient words to thank all of those who supported us through this ordeal. Thank you! It has been emotional and exhausting but also fulfilling and rewarding. Never, ever, ever give up when you have the truth behind you.
Thank you for all of your support,
Gil and family, Chip and Charlie
10/26/15 - UPDATE - Chip has been located and tonight was reunited with Gil and his family - NO THANKS to county executive Isiah Leggett and police chief Tom Manger who did nothing to help us (ignoring more than 229,000 people who wanted answers). Check out the K-9 Chip Facebook page for more details. Stay tuned to this story as we work to uncover facts. https://www.facebook.com/K9-Chip-126559601028991/
Officer Gil Fones is a 27-year veteran of the Montgomery County Police Department, having spent the past 20 years as a K-9 handler and trainer. Recently, his K-9 partner Chip was taken away from him without explanation. Initially, Gil was told that Chip was going to be retired and that he would be able to adopt him and keep him as a pet -- a standard practice for retired K‑9's. But then suddenly, Officer Fones was informed that he could not adopt Chip and that the department was either going to euthanize Chip or move him to a location outside the county.
We are retired coworkers and friends of Officer Gil Fones. We started this petition to help bring Chip back home to his family. We were all K‑9 handlers ourselves and nationally certified K‑9 trainers with decades of experience, and we have never seen a handler and his partner separated like this or treated in this manner.
Officer Fones and his family deserve answers. It is time for the Montgomery County Police to disclose the whereabouts of Chip and allow him to return to the Fones family.
As you can imagine, there have been plenty of guesses as to why this happened. The only incident involving Chip that Gil can think of was during a recertification exercise -- Gil sustained a bite from Chip. It was minor; nothing that required follow-up treatment. Almost all K‑9 handlers have had similar minor incidents involving their own partner. This event took place 5 weeks before the dog was seized, and both Gil and Chip were allowed to work their normal shifts afterwards.
Gil has been an outstanding member of the community and the K-9 unit. Besides his 27 years of service to the Montgomery County Police Department, Gil served in the United States Air Force Presidential Support Unit under President Ronald Reagan from March 1982 to October 1986. A person of such distinction deserves the truth, and he deserves to have his partner Chip back.
Please sign our petition to help reunite the Fones family with Chip.
K9 Officer Bo Curry (Retired)
K9 Officer John Binnix (Retired)
K9 Officer Tim Carroll (Retired)
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