Ri'Chard Booth, Greg Kafoury, Harold Hammick, Jason Kafoury and Alex Clay celebrate verdict against Portland Police in police abuse case
Sen. Chip Shields has sponsored a bill in the Oregon Legislature targeted at changing the terms of the Portland Police Bureau contract. Senate Bill 747 would remove officers' right to state arbitration when they are fired or disciplined for misconduct or use of force. Willamette Week first reported the story.
The bill will be considered at 3 p.m. Wednesday April 10 in the Senate committee on Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection. Sen. Shields chairs that committee.
Because arbitration rights have been written into the police contract, officers have had the right to appeal a discipline decision through a hearing with a state arbitrator. And despite public outrage, those arbitration decisions have overturned bureau disciplinary action on at least six occasions. A state arbitrator told Portland Police Bureau to reinstate Officer Ron Frashour, fired after shooting Aaron Campbell in Jan. 2010, for example. And a state arbitrator also overturned 80-hour disciplinary suspensions for Officers Christopher Humphreys and Kyle Nice, who used force with James Chasse, in an encounter that led to his death in police custody. A new documentary film "Alien Boy" tells Chasse's story.
The bill singles out Portland, by saying its provisions would apply to "a public employer that is a city with a population of more than 300,000." Portland is the only Oregon city that fits that description.
The bill goes on to specify that the city may not enter into a contract that provides for binding arbitration on "issues related to the disciplining or the termination of a police officer for misconduct involving the unlawful use of force."
|Marva Davis, Aaron Campbell's mother with one of his children at a protest rally in February 2010|
The bill gives police managers more power to dish out consequences for misconduct. Managers should not have to rely on past discipline decisions to determine what's appropriate currently, it says. Managers should have a right to change the standards on misconduct, providing they give adequate notice and the change doesn't conflict with the police contract.
Attorneys Greg and Jason Kafoury of the law firm Kafoury and McDougal asked Shields to propose the bill.
The firm has successfully sued the City of Portland in more than one police misconduct case. Greg Kafoury represented Alex Clay, Harold Hammick, and Ri'Chard Booth, for example, who in 2009 were awarded $175,000 in a case where they told jurors they were falsely arrested and Hammick was physically abused by a Portland officer.