On October 17, 2018

Rutland City, police corporal agree to keep silent on departure from department

By Alan J. Keays/VTDigger

Rutland City has reached an agreement with a Medal of Valor winning police officer that requires officials to keep mum on the details regarding his departure from the department.

Police Cpl. Damon Nguyen had been placed on administrative leave on Dec. 12, 2017; it ended on Aug. 26, when he resigned a day before the settlement agreement was signed.

City officials have not disclosed why Nguyen had been on leave, but City Attorney Matthew Bloomer did release the seven-page settlement agreement reached between the city and the now-former police corporal.

“Any inquiry regarding Employee’s employment will be responded to by the Chief of Police or Human Resources Director on behalf of the City with dates of employment only,” the seven-page settlement agreement between the city and Nguyen states.

The agreement adds, “The Union, Employee and the City’s current police chief agree not to disparage the other’s professional reputation and standing.”

The agreement, signed Aug. 27 by Nguyen, a police union official, and Rutland City Police Chief Brian Kilcullen, sheds little light on what prompted it, but reveals that the parties have gone to great length to keep that from coming out.

“The Parties acknowledge that this Agreement may be considered a public record and the disclosure of its terms to appropriate governmental authorities may be necessary,” the settlement agreement released by Bloomer stated.

“To the extent permitted by law, the Union, Employee and the City agree to keep the terms and conditions of this Agreement confidential and will be kept in a departmental file OTHER THAN Employee’s Personnel File.”

The agreement later adds, “Should any public records request be made of the City for this Agreement, the Union shall be notified and provided an opportunity to meet and discuss with the City the terms of any potential public records request involving Employee prior to disclosure.”

VTDigger did file this week a public records request with the city seeking “any and all” internal investigation reports regarding Nguyen. Bloomer said Wednesday he is reviewing the request to determine what can and cannot be released under Vermont’s Public Records Act.

As part of the agreement, none of the parties are admitting to any wrongdoing.

“The Parties agree that neither this Agreement nor the furnishing of the consideration for this Agreement shall be deemed or construed at any time for any purpose as an admission by either party of any liability, responsibility, or unlawful conduct of any kind,” the document states.

The seven-page settlement agreement provided by Bloomer stated that the city accepted Nguyen’s resignation “in lieu of further disciplinary investigation and/or discipline.”

Also, according to the agreement, Nyugen would be paid for 250 hours of vacation leave and 630 hours of sick leave, both of which he accumulated. In total, the city paid out $16,574 to Nyugen, the document stated.

He agreed, as part of the settlement, not to file any union grievances against the city.

Nguyen started working for the Rutland City Police Department in January 2011 and had a base salary of $60,132 a year, according to city records.

Nguyen was awarded the department Medal of Valor in 2013, having survived a knife attack from a woman who had been taken into custody in the holding area of the police station.

Bloomer referred comment on the agreement to Kilcullen, the city’s police chief. Kilcullen, who was traveling back to Rutland on Wednesday from a conference, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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