By editorial board • 

If cover-up and lies aren’t enough, what’s it take to fire an officer?

The arbitration ruling awarding sheriff’s deputy Marc Brodeur his job back, despite having engaged in a coverup and then lied about it,  is less concerning than those handed down in cases involving more egregious conduct. But it fits a longstanding pattern of fired officers winning reinstatement.

And it serves as a reminder how difficult it is to terminate a police officer in Oregon — or any other union-backed public employee, for that matter, no matter how outrageous the offense.

Brodeur broke protocol by accidentally taking home a department-issued taser, a minor procedural infraction. But instead of simply admitting the lapse, he slipped the taser back into the cabinet in a cover-up attempt, then lied about the action when confronted.

He said he resorted to deception because he was concerned about how another lapse would affect his candidacy for employment elsewhere, considering the numerous notices he’d been receiving for doing things wrong. And he noted he owned up to it later the same morning, in an attempt to make it good.

But his honesty and competence, two vital character attributes for public safety agencies, must be questioned — and certainly will be by defense lawyers next time he’s called to the stand. 

Brodeur’s case is minor compared to the 2014 case of McMinnville police officer Tim Heidt, caught on video launching a vicious, unprovoked attack on a Hispanic bystander during a traffic stop, inflicting severe injuries, then arresting his victim for resisting arrest.

Heidt allegedly compounded that offense by lying to officers conducting a subsequent excessive force investigation. And he got into a drunken brawl in Seaside, then attempted to gain entry to a unit occupied by a terrified woman, mistaking it for his vacation rental. But an arbitrator ordered his reinstatement anyway.

Portland has been victimized by even worse arbitration reversals involving cases where officers fatally shot unarmed men in the back.

Stress is often a main point of defense by union lawyers. No one would argue that police have one of the most stressful jobs in our society, but that should not excuse any and all excesses.

The trend of reinstating fired officers, at the behest of Oregon’s all-powerful public employee unions, mars the credibility of law enforcement. It also serves to cost taxpayers huge sums of money.

Brodeur’s unwarranted reinstatement follows a corrosive pattern, and that pattern serves to erode the public’s trust in its local police departments.

Comments

Old school

What does it take to fire any union protected person?? A LOT....which is not only sad, but extremely maddening. I would imagine to most department heads, it's not even worth trying (your editorial is proof). The tax payers have no say, do we? We aren't even aware of the problems, are we? And what about the good union workers, do they ever have a chance to say, enough is enough, this person needs to go!?!? The general population truly doesn't have a clue that it is impossible to get rid these " bad apples" and that's really a story the News Register should be investigating! We all lose in this situation: the tax payers, the city, county, state entities and other decent union workers that have to continue working with these knuckleheads. HOW and more importantly...WHEN do we change this? And lastly....WHO has the courage to take this on?

Don Dix

Well put Old school.

One sure way to change how the system works without scrutiny would be to rid the state of those elected officials that put union concerns and wishes before the citizens.

The Ds have controlled the state gov. for years, and with each passing session, the union grip gets tighter. The evidence is blatantly obvious!

So, just like the addict that can't be satisfied, take away the enablers (Ds) who provide the fix (union favors). Elect enough senators, reps and state officials that have no union ties or support, and swing the balance back to the people -- as the Constitution clearly requires!

At least, that's one place to begin.

McMinnville Grizzly

Old School and Don, I get your drift about the union stuff however there is way more to this story that the NR didn't print which is unfortunate. I'm no fan of unions but they are needed and stronger when management doesn't treat employees fairly. The union is stronger than ever at the County due to the way that employees are and have been treated. It has gotten much worse in recent years. The arbitrators report addressed many issues which were not reported on such as the county creating issues to simply embellish and create a case for termination. Not exactly honest on their part now is it? I'm not excusing poor employee behavior but the county is not consistent in how they treat similar behaviors in others. IMO the union is not the main problem here its the county and their methods of treating their employees. There have been and continue to be serious issues with management employee relations at the county and its costing the taxpayers in ways that almost no one knows about or sees.

kona

McMinnville Grizzly, could you be more specific? You put out a lot in your comment and it would help if everyone knew the reasons behind your "information".

Seabiscuit

"Oregon’s all-powerful public employee unions"

O.K., I'll bite, just which all-powerful public employee union covers YCSO deputies?

Jeb Bladine

Sheriff's Office employees are part of Teamsters Local Union No. 223 out of Portland. While not a major public employee union by any means, Local 223 has agreements covering employees of various law enforcement and many public works agencies.

Seabiscuit

I knew that Jeb. I was just being a little sarcastic as I had never heard the Teamsters referred to as "Oregon's all-powerful public employee unions" before.

But thanks for clarifying that they are not with "While not a major public employee union by any means". So why the inflammatory statement leading the readers to thinking they are one of "Oregon's all-powerful public employee unions"?

And does that mean we should do away with the any and all unions that might represent a "public" employee and only keep the ones that represent the private sector. Oh wait, isn't the Teamsters primarily a private sector union?

Don Dix

In Oregon, a teamster is a teamster. Whether private of public, one teamster union supports all others.

McMinnville Grizzly, please explain how a deputy caught lying and subsequently trying to cover up the offense should not be fired. In the private sector, he's gone! In the public unions, usually it's just a kick to another department or position (google Jane Cease).

It appears a public union job has a half-life of life!

kona

Seabiscuit, you asked, "And does that mean we should do away with the any and all unions that might represent a "public" employee and only keep the ones that represent the private sector. Oh wait, isn't the Teamsters primarily a private sector union?"

The problem with unions in general is that their primary and often sole objective is to serve their membership at the expense of their host organization (and everyone else). That is the reason why union membership as a percentage of the workforce is at all-time lows. Their bullying tactics don't play well in our societies any longer. Their strongholds are in work areas where they can hold the host organization hostage with their threats. With the Oregon Democratic Party as their partner in a symbiotic relationship, they (unions) have done well for themselves to the detriment of most everyone else.

Seabiscuit

Kona, you don't have to explain unions. I've been involved in a union negotiation where the union was more than willing to do away with the jobs of higher paid union members if the employer would guarantee raises for the remaining employees. I've seen a few of their dirty tricks up close and personal and want nothing to do with them.
What I have a problem with is the grandiose opinion and disparaging all encompassing statement, "The trend of reinstating fired officers, at the behest of Oregon’s all-powerful public employee unions, mars the credibility of law enforcement..."
So, are they saying the Deputies have absolutely no right to representation? When they say "how difficult it is to terminate a police officer in Oregon — or any other union-backed public employee, for that matter, no matter how outrageous the offense." aren't they implying that if this had been a Teamster working for a trucking company or a warehouse he would have been treated differently?
Yes it is just an opinion. But, to me, it is published opinions like this that lead to over all hate and discontent aimed at all Law Enforcement Officers and any public employee. It inflames attitudes and views and puts the Deputy in even a more difficult and quite possibly a dangerous position. If the purpose is to form a public outrage and incite them to tar and feather the deputy and run him out of town, when most people would have never heard about this,then job well done. So much for the American idea of jurisprudence. Works only if it fits your opinion.

Are you going to tell me that a labor lawyer hired by the Deputy out of his own pocket and suing the County for Wrongful Termination would not have very likely obtained the same results? The arbitrator, agreed to by both sides, issued his opinion. Either get rid of the arbitrator, contracts and labor laws or live with it.
My primary thought is that I think it is past time to tone down some of the inflammatory language.

kona

Point well taken.

Lulu

In the olden days, if your union was affiliated with the Teamsters, you were virtually assured of success addressing outrageous labor conditions; be assured, they happened. The Teamsters didn't fool around--they routinely boycotted shipments to the organization you worked for, and acted quite persuasively to those attempting to cross picket lines. However, this was an era when management frequently behaved omnipotently and flagrantly, with zero regard for the working stiffs paying their salaries. I realize times have changed, with modern unions blamed for picayune, pointless restrictions. However, at one time they acted as saviors of the exploited.
I will always feel grateful to the Teamsters.

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