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Lawyers in Portland Want to Restrict Arbitration For Cases Involving Excessive Police Force

Monday, April, 29, 2013


In 2010, an arbitrator reinstated Officer Ronald Frashour to the Portland Police Bureau after being fired for shooting a 25-year old unarmed man in the back.  Now, a bill is being heard by Oregon State lawmakers this week that would keep arbitrators out of cases involving Portland police who have been disciplined for using excessive force.  The bill is Senate Bill 747. 

The sponsor of the bill, State Senator Chip Shields (D), was invited to do so by two attorneys in Portland, Greg and Jason Kafoury, who think such cases should not be left in the hands of an arbitrator.  According to the language of the bill that is being considered, only the City of Portland would be affected by the legislation, since it is the only city in Oregon with more than 300,000 people. 

According to the Kafoury’s, the city’s attempts to change the Portland Police Association contract pushing binding arbitration have remained largely ineffective.  Therefore, as a last-ditch effort, the two attorneys have pushed Senate Bill 747 in order to allow police managers to determine the necessary discipline for police officers who have demonstrated excessive force without fears that their decision will be undermined by a third-party arbitrator. 

Greg Kafoury, in a statement to the press given this past Monday, said, "Our goal is to have a police union contract in Portland which does not allow for arbitration in cases of use of excessive force.  We want there to be political, democratic control of the police department.  That's only going to happen when the mayor has ultimate power over police discipline."

According to representatives of the Portland Police Union, the cases for which the bill would apply are limited in number.  For example, in the past 10 years, only 12 cases out of a police force of almost 1,000 officers have been sent to arbitration.  Out of those cases, the arbitrator involved only overturned the disciplinary actions given in half of them.