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Retired Lockport captain claims harassment by chief led to leaving

Capt. Jeffrey Brodsky, who retired from the Police Department in December, now says Chief Lawrence M. Eggert had harassed him into making the move.

Brodsky has served notice on the city that he intends to file a civil rights lawsuit, claiming he was suffered discrimination because he was disabled and Jewish.

Eggert challenged Brodsky and Jon L. Wilson, Brodsky's attorney, to sign a waiver so he can respond to the charges in public without having to worry about being sued for violating personnel privacy regulations.

"I can, on behalf of the city and myself, deny these allegations. If he and his lawyer want to duke it out in the paper, they can give me a signed waiver," Eggert said Friday.

Wilson said Brodsky, who joined the Police Department in 1980, wanted to work at least two more years, but retired Dec. 3 because of the mistreatment.

Eggert said Brodsky's retirement was a surprise. He said he did not consider it when preparing his budget request for this year.

Brodsky, who declined to be interviewed Friday, said in a filing with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that he was "forced into retirement."

Brodsky's disability involves his right ankle, which was fractured Nov. 1, 2008, while he was quelling a domestic dispute between a woman and her teenage daughter on Bright Street. The intoxicated woman, who later pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and served 90 days in jail, fought with him.

Wilson said Brodsky underwent surgery and had a metal plate and screws implanted in his ankle. He was on light duty for a time before returning to full duty.

"He had a long and exemplary career with the Lockport Police Department, attaining the rank of captain. That certainly wouldn't have happened if his performance was substandard," Wilson said. "Of late, he's been a target of petty and baseless disciplinary proceedings."

Brodsky's notice of claim asserts he was threatened with discipline or demotion over "minor clerical errors." Wilson said he was referring to allegations of problems with preparing officers' schedules on his patrol shift.

"There were incidents where routine ministerial tasks became an issue," Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said. He said he recalled one conversation with Wilson about Brodsky and also remembered talk about bringing Brodsky before the Police Board for a disciplinary hearing. But that never was done.

"Apparently there were some complaints that he was only able to perform light duty," Wilson said. "Remarks were made about the money -- it's all about the money, that he was focusing on the money."

Wilson said Brodsky inferred that such comments about money were made because the captain is Jewish.

Eggert said he never made those comments, nor did he hear anyone else make them.

"They can say whatever they want, but I am restricted by privacy laws," the police chief said. "I can categorically deny that. I don't have a bigoted bone in my body, and I'm offended they would make that allegation against me and the Police Department."

Wilson said he expects a lawsuit would be filed in U.S. District Court, but that step cannot be taken until the EEOC completes its probe. He said that agency often tries to arrange mediation sessions, but those are voluntary.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com