Terminated Animal Control Officer Deb Zerafa continues to receive public support after she was abruptly fired following allegations of citizen-right violations and falsifications of time sheets. A group of about a dozen protesters gathered outside of a Grand Traverse County Commission meeting in order to protest the actions taken against Zerafa.
One of the things that Zerafa can use to challenge her termination is disparate treatment. That is, has the county ever taken a Fourth Amendment violation seriously, ever? Did they treat Zerafa differently than other similarly situated employees?
Zerafa could ask for records regarding allegations of Fourth Amendment violations from other law enforcement officials, or any county employee for that matter, and determine if an investigation/termination happened in each of those cases. It could produce some interesting discovery on the attitudes and actions of law enforcement when it comes to Fourth Amendment violations and the respect that they have (or don’t have) for the citizens they supposedly protect. Depositions may also be revealing.
The move to fire Zerafa came as former Grand Traverse County Undersheriff Nate Alger ascended the ranks to his new post as Grand Traverse County Administrator. The sheriff and Animal Control squabbled over Animal Control’s authority, oversight and funding. Zerafa appeared to have come out ahead as Animal Control’s point person in the squabble, until her firing.
And what of everyone else? What about all of the other employees who may want to advocate for change or blow the whistle? Doesn’t Zerafa’s firing send the message to get in line and stay in line?
The whole situation is sad for the people of Grand Traverse County and the animals. I wish Zerafa the best.
Here is the Grand Traverse County Commission schedule.