Merit Board decides that the UP officers dismissal was unfounded
By Aisha-Iman Jefferson
Campus Life Reporter
University Police Officer Dwight Gentrys wait is over.
Merit Board members ruled in Gentrys favor Wednesday in Champaign, deciding he would be re-instated and would receive both full and back pay and full benefits.
I was so elated that I finally had a fair-minded, objective body to hear this case with the authority to make a decision, Gentry said. He explained that is what he wanted all along.
Gentry believes NIU called for his dismissal because he reported the negative racial behavior he alleges to have experienced as a UP officer.
[The Merit Board] said that [the charges brought against him] were clearly retaliation, Gentry said.
The Merit Board had to decide whether or not there was a violation of work rules on Gentrys part, and whether those violations amounted to a dischargeable offense, NIU General Counsel George Shur said.
They voted that he should not be discharged, but all of them mentioned in the course of the session that he [had] broken rules and should have been disciplined, but that he should be given a second chance and not be fired, he said.
Based on statements made during the hearing that may not have been based on the actual record submitted, Shur believes Merit Board members were contacted by Gentry and/or his supporters.
It is unfortunate that this could not be resolved at the campus level, Shur said.
After the hearing, Gentry said he approached Shur in hopes of dissolving any negative feelings that may have surfaced during the ordeal. Gentry said Shur acted unfavorably toward him, becoming loud and belligerent, and pointing at his face.
George Shur disgraced himself and the university with his conduct, he said. My children were there. I was shocked at his conduct, as everyone was.
In his defense, Shur said he did not yell or shout at Gentry. He said he often talks with his hands and speaks loudly as a result of hearing problems.
If I did (yell); Im sorry, Shur said. It certainly was not intended to be offensive. I personally did no ill-will toward Dwight Gentry, Shur said.
Gentry and Shur both said they would like to move on now that the process has concluded.
I want to go back to UP because it is rewarding and fulfilling to serve this community as a police officer, Gentry said.
Gentry said he and his lawyer were prepared to go on with the lawsuit case, regardless of the hearings outcome.
Currently, NIU has not decided if it will take any steps to appeal the decision.
Theres a lot to be said about putting this behind us and moving on, Shur said.