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Vero Police Chief Don Dappen out November 30th

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER, (Week of November 10, 2011)
Photo of Police Chief Don Dappen.

Vero Beach Police Chief Don Dappen will be gone at the end of the month.

City Manager Jim O'Connor, who put Dappen on administrative leave last week pending termination, said Tuesday he had worked out an agreement with the police chief and his attorney that calls for Dappen to retire and leave the city payroll at the end of the month.

On Monday, local trial attorney Louis B. “Buck” Vocelle sent O’Connor a letter stating that Dappen would retire effective immediately, but that he was seeking 30 days severance pay from the city.

The letter alleged that O’Connor’s efforts to oust Dappen lacked proper notice and failed to give an adequate description of the charges levied against Dappen as cause for his dismissal.

“Instead of a cash payment of 30 days severance, they offered an extended retirement date of the end of November,” Vocelle said Tuesday.

“It’s not really a compromise," Vocelle said.  "The net effect is basically the same, except the city doesn’t have to write a separate check. Plus he gets an extra month in the Deferred Retirement Option Program and an extra month of benefits.”

O'Connor, who became the city manager in July, wanted Dappen out of his job by the end of the month, citing a "difference in management styles."

Dappen, who makes $115,000 a year plus benefits, planned to retire in 2014. At that time, he would have had 38 years of service to the city. Now, he will most likely not return to his post, as O’Connor designated Deputy Chief David Currey interim police chief as of Nov. 4.

“He is not required to be back on the job,” Vocelle said.

Whether Dappen will be asked to come back in some capacity while he’s still on the payroll to facilitate a transition is still up in the air.

“That will be my option if and when he would return to work. I have not looked that far ahead yet,” O’Connor said Tuesday evening.

Dappen has nearly 12 weeks of accrued sick time and 59 days of vacation. He could receive $88,000 for his banked sick and vacation.