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SAPD captain fired for being 'retired on duty' gets reduced discipline but no back pay

Shawn Ury used earned leave time off work, took second full-time job

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SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio police captain who was fired 97 days before his planned retirement for working a second full-time job instead of his police assignment had his discipline reduced, records obtained by The Defenders show.

An arbitrator recently reduced the indefinite suspension of Shawn Ury to "a lengthy disciplinary suspension without pay of any form." The time of the suspension started with Ury's original date of discipline, March 31, 2017, and ended in July last year -- the date Ury had initially told the department he would retire after 23 years of service.

Ury had been using paid earned leave time off work since September 2016 while working a full-time job as an investment research analyst at USAA. He initially had a permit to work the job, but department administrators warned him that he could not continue being what police previously described as "retired on duty."

"Captain Ury then reportedly responded that he had both a vested and 'constitutional right' to continue working at USAA while utilizing his previously earned (paid) SAPD off-duty time; therefore he reasoned that the department (Assistant Chief Anthony Trevino) had no legal or contractual standing to restrict what he personally chose to do with such earned off-duty time' provided only that such activity did not violate the SAPD General Manual or create a 'de facto' conflict of interest," the arbitration document said.

In the beginning of 2017, Ury was told his permit to work the USAA job while using his leave time had been denied. The document said Ury claimed he was informed by Deputy Chief (Gus) Guzman "that, after consulting with SAPD Chief (William) McManus, the chief had opined that he did not think 'Sheryl' would like it." The "Sheryl" referenced is City Manager Sheryl Sculley.

Ury continued his USAA work, reportedly aware he could face disciplinary action but "made no reasonable attempt to access or comply with the established prescribed procedures for formally challenging the chief's (denial) actions," the document said.

The ruling said the arbitrators believed that, by choosing to continue the other job without his work permit, Ury was exhibiting "patently uncharacteristic behavior."

"Although we are persuaded that Captain Ury 'genuinely believed' that Chief McManus was constitutionally barred from interfering with his right to utilize his SAPD 'earned' leave time in any way that he chose; such error was sadly without appellant having sought any professional advice," the document said. "On that point we take arbitral notice and emphasize that a law enforcement organization, such as SAPD, cannot effectively and safely operate and complete its primary mission if subordinates are allowed to unilaterally challenge a supervisor's judgment and directive with which the effected individual police officer personally disagrees."

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARBITRATION RULING

The ruling also said Ury should have complied with the chief's order and filed a formal challenge to it.

"Captain Ury put the remainder of his otherwise exemplary SAPD career, and all previously earned but unused leave and retirement benefits in great period. A patently unwise decision, particularly where, as here, he did not appear to even attempt to first seek legal advice regarding his (mis)understanding of the law and the (Collective Bargaining Agreement) before resorting to self-help," the ruling said.

The arbitrators said McManus did not abuse his authority by denying Ury's off-duty work request. It also said Ury was insubordinate, but that it was uncharacteristic and an "isolated act."