Sunday, March 8, 2015

Police Department discipline in Cleveland-20 arbitration awards

Northeast Ohio Media Group recently published an article discussing the Mayor of Cleveland's belief that the arbitration process for police discipline has impeded his ability to terminate problem officers. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson says arbitration process keeps bad cops on police force.  As part of its reporting on this issue, Northeast Media Group requested, and received, 20 arbitration awards addressing discipline of police department employees. The report links to the awards. Among the issues discussed by the arbitrators are:

The dismissal of two officers for their involvement in an off duty bar fight with racial overturns. One of the dismissals was overturned here, while the second was upheld here. Both awards are by Arbitrator Michael Paolucci.

The suspension of a Sergeant for her involvement in establishing and managing a "homicide pool" in which participants bet on the number of homicides that would be committed in the city in a year. Arbitrator Burt Griffin's upheld the suspension.

The termination of a detective for, inter alia, texting/sexting crime victims and having personal visits while on duty without authorization. Arbitrator Gary W. Spring awarded the detective reinstatement without backpay and subject to a fitness for duty exam prior to his return to duty.

The suspension of an officer for insubordination in failing to follow an order concerning vacation scheduling. Arbitrator Alan Miles Ruben denied the grievance.

An officer's use of pepper spray to effectuate an arrest. Arbitrator James Mancini reduced  a suspension to a verbal warning.

The dismissal of an officer who had entered a no contest plea to an assault charge arising from her stabbing of her boyfriend. Arbitrator Paul Gerhart awarded reinstatement without back pay.

The suspension of an officer because of comments made in an on line post to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Arbitrator Hyman Cohen reduced the discipline and, in a portion of the award captioned "Dictum" rejected claims that the discipline violated the officer's first amendment rights and that the officer had been engaged in protected concerted activity.

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