PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A rookie Providence police officer has been fired after a suspect he was assigned to guard escaped custody at Rhode Island Hospital.
Police spokesperson Lindsay Lague confirmed Officer Rommy Morel, who graduated from the police academy last year, was terminated on Oct. 1.
Lague said there were “several disciplinary infractions” that led to Morel’s firing, including the suspect’s escape that happened last week.
According to a police report, Morel was assigned to watch over Claudia Hernandez, who had just been arrested for domestic assault on Wade Street and was transported to Rhode Island Hospital to be treated for injuries.
“Hernandez was left unattended at which time she was able to release herself from the handcuffs and fled the area,” police wrote in the report.
The escape took place around 1 a.m. Wednesday, and Hernandez was later captured on Plain Street, according to the report. She was charged with escape from custody, but the domestic assault charge was later dropped by prosecutors, according to court records.
Morel, a graduate of the 70th Providence Police academy in November 2021, was still a probationary officer, and therefore could be fired without triggering the protections in the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights.
The state law, known as LEOBOR, allows officers to have a hearing before a panel of three fellow law enforcement officers before they can be fired. There are at least two LEOBOR cases currently pending in Providence, as veteran officers await trial for criminal charges.
Morel, whose base salary was $60,884, would have completed his one-year probationary period on Nov. 6. He will not be compensated for accrued paid time off because he had not yet reached a year of employment.
Reached by phone, Michael Imondi, the president of the Providence Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3, declined to comment on whether Morel’s firing was justified or not. But he said he generally agrees with the one-year probationary period that exempts an officer from the LEOBOR protections.
“The first year is very telling,” Imondi said. “If they’re a problem individual, it’s going to show in that first year.”
Col. Hugh Clements could not immediately be reached to discuss Morel, and Lague did not elaborate on the other infractions Morel allegedly committed.
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Morel was one of 49 recruits that graduated from the 70th police academy last year. The 39 men and 10 women were trained over a period of 24 weeks before joining the department as probationary officers.