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How the police took over the cities

The 83-page contract between Columbus and his police union shows how arbitration works there, as it does in many other cities. The arbitrator, usually a lawyer, is chosen from a short list of names submitted by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a government agency that tries to prevent labor disputes. The city and the union each strike a name until one remains.

“Who are you ending up with?” asked Daniel Oates, the former Miami Beach, Florida police chief; Aurora, Colorado .; and Ann Arbor, Michigan. “The guy who is much more likely to have an interim decision in a dismissal.” What is the intermediate decision in a termination? Well, it’s not a termination.

Police chiefs and city officials often try to negotiate discipline before imposing it, to find a compromise that the union will support. Otherwise, they sometimes make a deal.

Portland sacked Sgt. Gregg Lewis in 2018 on a racist comment he made almost a year earlier on the roll call: something like: “If you meet a black person, just shoot him,” according to his letter from termination. The comment came three days after a Portland police officer shot and killed a black teenager; colleagues complained about Sergeant Lewis to a superior. The officer, who appealed, later said he was sarcastic.

Sergeant Lewis, who did not respond to requests for comment, had little prior discipline and no documented history of these remarks. According to Portland Police disciplinary guidelines, inflammatory language required a maximum of three weeks suspension without pay. The city therefore chose to pay him about $ 100,000 in back wages to retire.

“This is a glaring case, but the chance of this being referred to an adjudicator and then overturned, I believe, is too great,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said at the time.

In November 2015, Stanley Kropik, a longtime Detroit police officer, spotted an orange Dodge Charger he suspected had slipped over during a traffic stop 11 days earlier. Agent Kropik attempted to fire the Charger again, but it took off.

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