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article imageNYPD cops receive $151,000 in forced rehab placement

By Megan Hamilton     May 25, 2015 in Health
A federal jury has awarded two New York City police officers a combined $151,000 in a long-running suit that alleged NYPD substance abuse counselors forced them into alcohol rehab.
When they jointly filed the suit against the city in 2011, officers Kathleen Makinen, Jamie Nardini, and Angel Torres claimed representatives from the New York Police Department (NYPD) Counseling Services Unit (CSU) allegedly branded them alcoholics after refusing to believe the complaints against them were baseless and leveled by grudge-bearing exes and acquaintances, The New York Post reports.
Two of the officers were awarded the $151,000 on Thursday by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, while the third officer had settled the suit earlier for $75,000, said Patrick Lynch, president of the Association, The New York Daily News reports.
"We are disappointed with the decision and are considering our options," said the city Law Department's Eric Eichenholtz.
Makinen was arrested in Suffolk County in 2007 on child endangerment charges and referred to CSU after her ex-husband's cousin accused her of leaving her two young children at home while she drank wine with a neighbor, court documents report, per The New York Post.
She was found not guilty of child endangerment, but was forced to spend a month in a Pennsylvania rehab facility. To do this, she had to use her own money — to the tune of $2,800 when her insurance refused to pay the bill, documents report.
Nardini had to sit through six education videos by CSU after her ex-boyfriend, a retired cop, accused her of excessive drinking while the two were fighting for custody over their daughter, the documents say.
Torres wound up being forced into rehab after his wife and an acquaintance got into a physical fight at a party where he'd been drinking. He was also placed on modified duty and reprimanded for not reporting the assault.
"This is an important victory in our long-running campaign against the mistreatment of police officers by the Department's alcohol and substance abuse counseling unit," Lynch said, per the New York Post. "These officers were referred to the Counseling Services Unit based on false allegations, and they were put on modified duty, deprived of overtime or had their careers negatively impacted by the incorrect diagnosis."
In March, a judge in Brooklyn tossed out a lawsuit filed by 11 current and former cops who claimed that the NYPD discriminated against them when they were ordered to enter rehab, The New York Daily News reports here.
The officers denied the alcohol-related allegations of misconduct that initiated the referrals to the CSU. They also insisted they were wrongly identified as alcoholics.
Rehab is referred to as "the farm" by cops, and department regulations require that cops must enter rehab or face disciplinary action and dismissal from the force if they refuse. Federal Judge Roslynn Mauskopf found that the NYPD acted in good faith.
"We are pleased that the court agreed that the NYPD acted appropriately and provides essential counseling services to our police officers," Law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci said.
Statistics regarding alcohol abuse in law enforcement are difficult to come by, but in Texas, the Dallas Police Department has fired at least 21 officers since 2006 due to alcohol-related incidents. An additional six officers have resigned, The Dallas Morning News reports.
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