FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Daryl Turner
Appeal of the campbell / frashour arbitrator’s decision
Portland, ORE – April 12, 2012 –
On Friday, March 30, 2012, the Portland Police Association and the City of Portland received Arbitrator Jane Wilkinson’s decision to reinstate Officer Ron Frashour as a Portland police officer. Arbitrator Wilkinson’s decision marked the fifth time an independent body has ruled on Officer Frashour’s conduct. Preceding Arbitrator Wilkinson were reviews conducted by a Multnomah County Grand Jury, the Oregon Employment Department, the United States Department of Justice, and Oregon’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. All five of the reviews cleared Officer Frashour of any misconduct.
Arbitrator Wilkinson is a nationally-recognized arbitrator who was hand-selected by the City. Her decision was particularly thorough. She presided over 18 days of hearings in which 30 witnesses testified, including expert witnesses for both the City and the PPA. She reviewed thousands of pages of exhibits, including the Bureau’s complete investigation, and heard directly from Police Chief Mike Reese.
In finding that Officer Frashour violated no Bureau rules, Arbitrator Wilkinson relied upon a large body of case law and the facts, not media supposition or rumors. Arbitrator Wilkinson thoroughly analyzed all of the arguments raised by the City, who was represented in the case by the largest employer-side labor law firm in the country.
Arbitrator Wilkinson’s decision should be the end of this matter. The City and the PPA have agreed to use arbitration instead of the courts to resolve contract disputes, and since the first City-PPA contract more than 40 years ago, have agreed that arbitration is “final and binding.” You have signed one of those agreements and have participated in the negotiations of others. For those many years, the City and the PPA have accepted the results of all arbitration decisions, win or lose. There’s a powerful public interest in arbitration; it is a process that brings quick and inexpensive resolutions to labor disputes, and allows the City, its residents, and the PPA to efficiently resolve labor issues and focus more on the critical issue of fighting crime.
We now know that you want to undo this process, and will “appeal” a decision you have previously agreed would be “final and binding.” We understand your political motivation for doing so. After all, within days of the January 29, 2010, incident at the Sandy Terrace Apartments, you were publicly condemning OfficerFrashour, even though no internal investigation had yet been conducted, a grand jury had not been convened, and the Bureau’s criminal investigation was still ongoing. That the facts subsequently developed by those investigations showed Officer Frashour violated no rules has clearly not shaken your resolve to cling to your previous, hastily-reached and politically motivated judgment.
The path upon which you are embarking is an expensive one. It is expensive monetarily; the $750,000 of taxpayer money you are spending on legal fees in the arbitration process is obscenely high in these budget times and is unprecedented in the City’s history.
Your decision is also expensive in more profound, non-monetary ways. By appealing the Arbitrator’s decision, you are breaking your word that arbitration would be “final and binding.” From the very beginning the Portland Police Association trusted the integrity of the arbitration process. If the Arbitrator had upheld Officer Frashour’s termination, the Portland Police Association would have honored it. As a labor organization, we hold honor and integrity as cornerstones of our existence. As Mayor and the Police Commissioner, honor and integrity should be your cornerstones. Instead, by appealing the arbitrator’s decision, you have put your own political agenda ahead of the truth-seeking process that is at the heart of the arbitration process.
We all agree that this was a tragic situation. Mr. Campbell convinced family members, eyewitnesses, and responding officers that he was in possession of a gun. Tragically, after saying he wanted to commit “suicide by police,” he sought and succeeded in forcing a deadly confrontation with police. As the Police Commissioner, you had a moral and civic obligation to conduct a full and thorough investigation based on the facts before coming to any conclusion. The snap judgments you expressed to the community and the media immediately after the incident were made without all of the facts and did not serve the best interests of the community.
Your decision to appeal the Arbitrator’s decision continues to harm the community. Just as there could be some sense of closure for everyone involved, you have decided for political reasons, not legal ones, to pour salt into already painful wounds. This is not the sort of leadership we need from our police commissioner.