Detroit police told groundskeeper John Chevilott he did the right thing by turning over a loaded handgun he found on the job earlier this month.
His Wayne County employers had a different opinion: They fired him for it.
Chevilott and his crew were mowing county property in Westland, Mich. when they came across a snubnosed revolver on the morning of May 3.
“It was damaged, so it could’ve went off. Surprisingly, it didn’t kill the guy on the mower,” Chevilott told WJBK-TV. “It got picked up, so we put it in the van, waited [for] police to drive by.”
But when police didn’t come by, Chevilott finished up his workday and drove the gun to the station himself. Officers ran a check and discovered it had been stolen in 2005.
“They said I did the right thing getting it off the street,” he said.
It seems his superiors in Michigan’s public works department disagreed. They gave the foreman who had been in charge a 30-day suspension, and fired Chevilott after 23 years of service.
A Wayne County spokeswoman told WJBK the rules are clear: Employees aren’t allowed to possess weapons on the job.
But Chevilott said that policy doesn’t apply; he didn’t bring the gun — he found it.
“I’ve never seen a policy what to do if we find a gun out here. So, all I did was secure the situation to make sure nobody else got hurt or killed,” he said.
Chevilott — who was also let go for insubordination and unauthorized access to the road yard — wants his job back and has enlisted the help of his local union president.
Thomas Richards told WJBK the situation is simple: “They did a good thing. They took a gun off the streets and they’re being punished.”