History Shows Arbitration Bill Will Not Keep Fired Officers Fired
a fact sheet from Portland Copwatch June 7, 2020
The current bill being proposed to limit the powers of arbitrators in
police misconduct cases*-1 could be helpful in specific circumstances,
but will not keep officers fired for extreme behavior fired, if history
is a guide. Portland Copwatch (PCW) recognizes that many people in the
community, including people we have worked with, support this proposed
legislation. PCW does not oppose the currently proposed bill. A stronger
bill to determine how officers' discipline is judged is needed.
Here is the key problem: The bill specifically says it only applies in
cases where the arbitrator agrees misconduct occurred. The reason most
firings are overturned in serious cases is because arbitrators do not
agree with the findings.
Officer Valadez (2015): Arbitrator Says Sexual Misconduct Wasn't
Criminal The most recent case, which Portland Copwatch believes prompted
the City to call for this legislation, involved Officer Alfonso Valadez.
He was fired after being accused of showing poor judgment by engaging in
sex at a party where alcohol had been consumed, bringing discredit to
the Bureau and of having sex with a women who did not give her consent
(a crime).*-2 The arbitrator agreed with the former conclusion, leading
to the originally-proposed 40 hours off for that charge, but disagreed
with the latter allegation, which was what led to his termination. Thus,
only the 40 hour suspension was applied.
Officer Frashour (2010): Training Officers Say Shooting Aaron Campbell
in Policy The city fired Officer Ron Frashour for violating training
when he shot and killed the unarmed Aaron Campbell in the back in 2010.
The Lieutenant from the Training division clearly stated Frashour did
not act appropriately. However, Sergeants under his command contradicted
his testimony and the arbitrator ruled there was no misconduct,
overturning the discipline and ordering Frashour reinstated with back
Lt. Kaer (2006): Arbitrator Says Violations Occurred But Deadly Force
Justified When Lt. Jeffrey Kaer left his assigned post to respond to his
sister's call about a man in a car outside her house, it ended with Kaer
shooting and killing Dennis Young. Kaer claimed he was in danger of
being killed by Young's moving car. The arbitrator agreed Kaer violated
some policies (including not waiting for backup to arrive), but said he
did not violate the policy against shooting at moving vehicles because
the vehicle was not moving at the time of the shooting. Kaer ended up
with a suspension of 30 hours without pay.*-4
Officer Humphreys & Sgt. Nice (2003): No Fault in Failing to Bring James
Chasse to Hospital Officer Chris Humphreys and Sgt. Kyle Nice were
suspended for 80 hours each because they did not get James Chasse, Jr.
to a hospital after they caused serious injuries that led to his death
by beating him in 2006 (notably, not for the force they used). The
arbitrator overruled the finding and ordered they be given back pay and
that they have their records erased.
Officer McCollister (2003): Six Month Suspension Overturned in Kendra
James Case The arbitrator determining Officer Scott McCollister did not
violate policy when he killed Kendra James in 2003 explicitly cited a
disconnect between the Chief's findings and "the true facts of the
situation." The arbitrator claimed that James dictated McCollister's
actions and worried if she had driven away and caused an accident the
police would have been blamed for that.*-5 McCollister was reinstated
with back pay.
Officer Erickson: No Misconduct Shooting Fleeing Black Man in the Back
Officer Douglas Erickson was fired in 1993 after shooting and wounding
Gerald Gratton, an African American man, in the back. An arbitrator
over-ruled the finding and ordered Erickson reinstated.
There are other instances where officers' firings were overturned--
officers who made T-Shirts saying "Don't Choke 'Em, Smoke 'Em" after
African American security guard Tony Stevenson was choked by police in
1985, and officers involved in leaving dead possums in front of a
black-owned business in the early 1980s also had their jobs reinstated.
We could be wrong-- the City may believe the bill means that if the
arbitrator agrees any misconduct occurred, they cannot change the level
of discipline originally applied to all violations. However, it is
highly unlikely any labor organization would agree to that
At this time Portland Copwatch and others in the community continue to research what a
revised, strengthened bill would look like. For more information contact Portland Copwatch at
503-236-3065 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*1-2020 SB 1567
*2-Investigators in Washington State did not pursue criminal charges
saying the submitted rape kit would not prove whether there was consent.
*3-So far as we know Frashour is still on the force assigned to desk duty.
*4-See our analysis of this case at
*5-See our reporting on this atINFORMATION: Arbitration Bill Will Not Keep Fired Cops Fired