Editor’s Note: This story was amended July 25 at 1 p.m. with the addition of an EGPD incident report from June 25.
By Elizabeth F. McNamara
The Town Council approved the dismissal of firefighter Lt. Robert Warner in a 5-0 vote Monday night, following a statement by Acting Town Manager Wendy Schmidle that listed these reasons for the action:
- Conduct prejudicial to the good order of the department on June 18, 2018
- Insubordination six (6) counts between June 13 and 18, 2018
- Neglect of duties as Fire Lieutenant on June 14-18, 2018
- Making false verbal statement two (2) counts in regard to the Fire Circuitry book
- Refusal to obey orders three (3) counts June 13-18, 2018, and
- Speaking disrespectfully to an officer of the department on June 20, 2018.
Read Schmidle’s full statement here: Statement on Warner Dismissal.
Warner has been a member of the EGFD for 16 years. This was the first time he was subject to disciplinary action. It comes following events after Warner resigned as fire alarm and IT point person for the fire department on June 14, a position he had held for the past 12 years. (It was a “collateral duty” job like dispatch, where the person does the job when they are not working a firefighter shift; they are paid a lower hourly rate for the work.)
According to an incident report by the state police – who were called in by Town Manager Corrigan on June 20 to retrieve the fire department’s fire circuitry book from Warner – Warner resigned his collateral duty position “due to internal issues within the fire department and the Town Hall.”
Warner declined to comment.
The report noted that files were deleted from Warner’s network drive after his resignation June 14 (all members of the fire department have a network drive to store their files), but that they were recovered from a routine backup of his drive the previous day.
Also according to the state police report, Warner returned his town-issued laptop, iPhone and the key to the fire alarm office at Station One on June 19. “Numerous” files were found to be missing from the laptop and only some of them were retrievable, town officials told the state police.
No action was taken by the state police against Warner. The incident report (which you can find here: RISP Incident Report 06-26-18) ends with these statements:
“After a review of the … facts, along with a conference with the Attorney General’s office, it has been determined that the actions taken by Lt. Warner were not criminal in nature and did not violate any Rhode Island general laws. Town Manager Corrigan was advised the case would be closed. Nothing further to be done.”
However, at the meeting on Monday, Schmidle said the town would turn over “a packet” to the Attorney General “to pursue criminal prosecution … under the computer trespass statutes.”
Schmidle declined to say whether or not new information had been uncovered that would cause the Attorney General’s office to reverse its finding that there was no criminal activity.
East Greenwich Police also compiled an incident report that was released July 25: EGPD Incident Report 6/25/18.
* Town Manager Gayle Corrigan is away from July 14 to July 26; Schmidle was appointed to serve in her absence.
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