The Department presented evidence at the arbitration that the police officer returned a vehicle after his shift with a severely-damaged push bar. The In-Car Video System ("IVS") showed the vehicle did not have any physical damage at the beginning of the officer's shift. The officer did not notify the Department or other officers about the damage even though he testified to hearing a loud noise from the vehicle during his shift. The Department initiated an internal affairs investigation into the vehicle damage and officer's potential dishonesty. During the investigation, mechanics stated the severity of damage was likely caused by an impact or collision. The officer denied damaging the police unit.
Almost three months later, the officer conducted a solo traffic stop. During the stop, the officer ran a records check on the driver and passenger of the stopped vehicle on his Mobile Data Computer ("MDC") while the officer sat in his patrol vehicle. The driver had felony warrants. Subsequently, the officer engaged the passenger in a foot pursuit, leaving the unlocked police unit with weapons and allowing the driver to flee in her vehicle. Those actions caused the Department to deploy additional units and manpower to locate the driver and passenger, whom the officer lost when he abandoned the foot pursuit. Department policy and practice is that officers should run records checks via hand-held radio to prevent the officer safety issues associated with a solo officer sitting in his vehicle at a traffic stop. One month prior to the stop at issue, the Department had counseled the officer about running records checks on his MDC. The officer denied running the records check over his MDC when discussing the stop with a sergeant. The Department then initiated another internal affairs investigation over the officer's potential dishonesty and violation of the Department's foot pursuit policy. When interviewed by a lieutenant, the officer admitted to running the names through the MDC and that his statement during the investigation contradicted his denial to the sergeant just a week earlier.
The City ultimately determined the officer was dishonest and terminated the officer. The officer appealed the termination in arbitration.
The arbitrator upheld the termination finding the evidence clearly established there was some sort of collision during the officer's shift. The arbitrator considered the officer's previous accidents while on patrol and his failure to notify the Department about hearing a noise from the vehicle. The arbitrator also found that the officer was dishonest when speaking with the sergeant about running checks on his MDC. The arbitrator determined the officer made a dangerous decision to engage in a foot pursuit when leaving a driver unattended in a vehicle.
Ultimately, the arbitrator, like the City, saw the case as more than just failing to follow policies. The arbitrator found that the officer's conduct involved serious officer safety issues. The arbitrator acknowledged and reinforced the importance of honesty for police officers.