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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Police Union President: "Discipline Guide" Merely Advisory, Includes Provisions Union Opposes

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Portland Police Association Daryl Turner has answered a jolly announcement late Friday that the Portland Police Bureau, as part of federal reforms and a new contract with the police union, was putting in place a new matrix meant to help the chief of police and his team mete out appropriate discipline for police misconduct.

In a statement to his nearly 1,000 rank-and-file members sent out yesterday, Turner accused Chief Mike Reese of publishing a discipline guide that hadn't been fully vetted by the union, despite talk of collaboration. Turner also says the bureau isn't mentioning something important about the guide: that it's merely advisory.

During bargaining and mediation sessions with the City, the PPA came to an agreement with the City regarding the use of an advisory discipline guide. The advisory discipline guide would be used primarily by the Police Review Board as an advisory tool for sustained allegations of misconduct when recommending discipline to the Chief. To memorialize the terms of this agreement, Mayor Hales and I signed a Letter of Agreement.

The two key provisions of the Letter of Agreement are:

1. that the discipline guide is an advisory tool, and

2. that the advisory discipline guide does not change the just cause discipline standard under the collective bargaining agreement.

During the past two weeks, the PPA and representatives from the Chief’s office have discussed changes that the PPB wishes to make to the advisory discipline guide. The PPA opposed the changes. Those issues had not been resolved when, on Friday, the Chief sent a Bureau wide email without further conversation with the PPA regarding the PPB’s implementation of the advisory discipline guide, which includes provisions that the PPA opposes.

Turner, in an interview, said he wouldn't get into details about differences, because he expects further discussions with the city on the guide. But he did repeatedly mention how important he thought the advisory nature of the guide is.

"It doesn't override our collective bargaining agreement," Turner says.

The full statement is after the jump.

Last Friday, Chief Reese notified all PPB employees that, under his direction, the PPB was implementing a discipline guide. In his statement, Chief Reese indicates that a workgroup of stakeholders collaboratively gathered for many months to work on the discipline guide.

As the PPA representative, I attended a few initial meetings before it became obvious that this issue was a mandatory subject of bargaining that would have to be addressed in a formal bargaining setting, not during informal stakeholder discussions.

During bargaining and mediation sessions with the City, the PPA came to an agreement with the City regarding the use of an advisory discipline guide. The advisory discipline guide would be used primarily by the Police Review Board as an advisory tool for sustained allegations of misconduct when recommending discipline to the Chief. To memorialize the terms of this agreement, Mayor Hales and I signed a Letter of Agreement.

The two key provisions of the Letter of Agreement are:

1. that the discipline guide is an advisory tool, and

2. that the advisory discipline guide does not change the just cause discipline standard under the collective bargaining agreement.

During the past two weeks, the PPA and representatives from the Chief’s office have discussed changes that the PPB wishes to make to the advisory discipline guide. The PPA opposed the changes. Those issues had not been resolved when, on Friday, the Chief sent a Bureau wide email without further conversation with the PPA regarding the PPB’s implementation of the advisory discipline guide, which includes provisions that the PPA opposes.

After reading Chief Reese’s release to our members regarding the advisory discipline guide, two things became very clear to me. First, the PPB failed to highlight the key provisions of the advisory discipline guide: that it is advisory in nature and that it does NOT change the discipline standards under our collective bargaining agreement. Second, the assertion that the PPA was involved in a collaborative effort in the final version of the advisory discipline guide is inaccurate.

The PPA has worked tirelessly to protect our members’ rights as the PPB moves to implement DOJ reforms, including the advisory discipline guide. We have strived to work collaboratively with the City as we navigate the uncharted waters of DOJ reforms. Unfortunately, the Chief’s announcement does not reflect the goal of collaboration.

Our members deserve to know all the facts surrounding this new advisory discipline guide, most importantly that the discipline guide is advisory, that the PPA has maintained the key just cause disciplinary standard in the collective bargaining agreement, and that there are certain provisions in the PPB’s implemented version of the advisory guide over which the PPA still objects.

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