April 8th, 2013 By ANDREA DAMEWOOD | News | Posted In: Cops and Courts, Legislature, PDX News, Activism, City Hall

Bill Would Ban Arbitrators from Ordering Portland to Rehire Cops Fired for Excessive Force

     
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aaron campbellOfficer Ron Frashour shot Aaron Campbell (above) in 2010. He was fired by the city, but state arbitrators forced the city to reinstate him.

A new bill, filed last week, would prevent police unions from turning to state arbitrators to reinstate Portland Police officers fired for excessive force.

Senate Bill 747 seeks to prohibit "certain cities from entering into collective bargaining agreement that provides for binding arbitration of issues related to disciplining or termination of city police officer for misconduct involving unlawful use of force."

The bill restricts the law to cities over 300,000 people—or, in other words, Portland.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Chip Shields (D-Portland), who filed it on behalf of Portland lawyers Greg and Jason Kafoury, who are well-known for filing excessive force lawsuits against Portland cops.

"How many officers have gone through arbitration, and no officer has ever permanently lost his job for excessive force on a citizen?" Jason Kafoury tells WW.

The bill would make it illegal for Portland to sign a contract with a police union that allows for binding arbitration over discipline or termination for use of force violations.

State arbitrators have overturned several disciplanary actions against officers accused of excessive force, most famously in October 2012 when it ordered the city to reinstate Officer Ron Frashour.

A state arbitrator—who was fired after he shot and killed unarmed 25-year-old Aaron Campbell in the back in 2010—reinstated with back pay. The city then turned to the Employment Relations Board, which upheld the arbitrator's decision. Former Mayor Sam Adams got a council majority to fight that ruling in court, although that effort may peter out under Mayor Charlie Hales.

The bill is scheduled for a 3 pm hearing Wednesday with the Senate Committee on General Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection, of which Shields is the chairman. 

It won't face smooth sailing—unions hold tremendous sway in the state legislature.

"I anticipate the bill will face considerable opposition from the Oregon Police Officers Association," Shields wrote WW in an email.

Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner declined to comment on the bill prior to Wednesday's hearing. "I'm not going to give away anything," Turner says.

 
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