7/28/07

Teamsters backpedal in Tennessee

Teamsters Local 327, which represents Metro police officers, distanced itself Friday from former Police Lt. Calvin Hullett, and at the same time called for the police department to recommission Officer Roy Dunaway. Hullett, a national Teamsters organizer charged with allegedly placing hidden cameras at a Fraternal Order of Police camp in Wilson County, has been the focus of an evolving Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe.

The Teamsters supplanted the FOP as bargaining agent for Metro officers in 2006, but the FOP has been trying to regain control. Teamsters Local president Jimmy Neal acknowledges "there has been an ongoing dispute between the FOP and us." Hullett has been on disability pension since 2006. Before becoming a Teamsters organizer, he was FOP president.

In a news conference Friday afternoon, Teamsters attorney Jack Byrd stressed, "Mr. Hullett does not work for or at the discretion of Neal."

He also said the union has cooperated with the TBI and that neither Neal nor Dunaway has been interviewed or identified as a suspect.

Tuesday the TBI raided the Teamsters offices on Antioch Pike.

Dunaway, a 16-year Metro officer, had been full-time police liaison with the Teamsters, with an office in its headquarters. He was decommissioned Thursday, surrendering his badge, ID and gun when he was reassigned to a desk job in the warrants division.

Decommission defended

During the news conference, Byrd said Dunaway's only offense was "guilt by association."

He said Dunaway was acquainted with Hullett, who had access to the computer on which Dunaway conducted his police union business. That computer was among items seized by the TBI.

"It's a punishment before he has had his due process or even been accused of anything," Byrd said.

Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said Friday that "the decommissioning of Roy Dunaway was not punitive."

According to arrest warrants, two unidentified individuals accompanied Hullett to the FOP camp.

The Teamsters said they know nothing about them or about two Shelby County sheriff's officers, interviewed by the TBI, who are off-duty with pay pending an administrative investigation.

(rctimes.com)

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