WINDSOR LOCKS, Connecticut — A state arbitration board has ordered Windsor Locks to reinstate a police sergeant fired by town officials in January 2012 after being accused of hindering an investigation into a fatal accident involving his son, who also was a town police officer.
The State Board of Mediation and Arbitration released a report Thursday saying the town Police Commission was wrong to fire Sgt. Robert Koistinen, who was acquitted by a jury of a criminal charge of hindering prosecution in October 2012.
The board said Koistinen, 56, of Suffield, used "poor judgment" and some of his acts were inappropriate, but he didn't violate any police department policies. "While his actions require discipline, the termination of a thirty four year employee with absolutely no prior discipline is without just cause and unduly severe," the decision said.
The board said the appropriate discipline was a one-year suspension without pay and that Koistinen should be reinstated as a sergeant with back pay dating to January of last year.
Town officials haven't said whether they plan to challenge the ruling.
"The arbitration award speaks for itself," said Kevin Brace, chairman of the Police Commission.
A state police investigation found that Koistinen, who was among the first emergency responders to the accident, drove his son from the crash site to the police station and back as many as three times. Authorities say Koistinen later prevented an investigating officer from interviewing and getting a blood sample from his son while he was being treated at a hospital.
Koistinen's son, former Officer Michael Koistinen, drank alcohol for several hours while off-duty on Oct. 30, 2010, before his car struck and killed 15-year-old Henry Dang, a Windsor Locks High School sophomore who was riding his bike home from a friend's house, state police said.
Michael Koistinen was fired and pleaded no contest to manslaughter and evidence tampering. He is serving a five-year prison sentence.
Robert Koistinen is suing the town for back pay, legal expenses and other costs totaling more than $300,000.
A message seeking comment was left Friday for Robert Koistinen.