CREATED Apr. 8, 2013
Omaha, NE -- On Friday, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer announced he had fired three officers and a sergeant during an excessive force investigation.
There is a process in place that allows fired officers to appeal Schmaderer's decision.
"For everyone except for department directors, part-time employees and grant-funded employees, (most city employees) are similar," said Bernard in den Bosch, Assistant City Attorney. "You have the ability to appeal to either to the personnel board or to arbitration."
The County Attorney's office is also investigating the excessive force incident.
While no charges have been filed, John Wells, the President of the Omaha Police Union, said the possibility of criminal charges could affect whether the officers decide to fight for their jobs.
"I can't necessarily speculate what will happen, but my guy instinct is obviously there is a criminal investigation going on," said Wells. "I can't imagine if somebody was terminated and facing criminal charges, they're necessarily worried about the arbitration for their job."
Arbitration is just one piece of the puzzle.
An officer who is facing disciplinary action first has to meet with the city's human resources director.
Wells said, historically, the director chooses to uphold the police chief's decision.
The officer then has 10 days to file an appeal.
If that happens, in den Bosch said the officer could handle the matter in public in front of the personnel board or behind closed doors in arbitration.
Arbitration behind closed doors is something the city has no firm policy on, only firm practice.
"Personnel issues are generally private," said in den Bosch. "The labor agreements in the city code talk about personnel decisions being private. As far as arbitration hearings being public, it doesn't specify one way or the other in the contract. They're generally considered to be private."
Whether the four fired officers appeal could depend on what happens with the criminal investigation.
"If you are charged with a crime, I'm not sure what the reality is of getting your job back through arbitration," said Wells.
As far as legal representation goes, Wells said he has not been approached by any of the officers looking for a lawyer from the police union.