Texas city files motion against ruling overturning LEO's suspension

A former judge lambasted the department's internal affairs division for the suspension; police officers have called for an investigation into the division

Kaley Johnson
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

ARLINGTON, Texas — The city of Arlington is asking a judge to overrule an arbitrator’s decision that overturned an officer’s suspension and prompted calls for an investigation of the police department’s internal affairs division.

The city’s petition was filed Tuesday in response to an arbitrator’s ruling that said the police department unfairly suspended an officer. The city said the ruling was “superfluous” and “meant to harass and bash” the entire department.

In December, former judge and arbitrator Anne Ashby overruled the police department’s 80-hour suspension of the officer, saying the discipline was unwarranted and unfair. She ruled the officer should be repaid for that time period, and she lambasted the department’s internal affairs division for trying to “tarnish an officer’s career.”

Chris CeBallos, Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association president, cited Ashby’s ruling at a city council meeting in December when he asked for an independent investigation into the police department’s internal affairs division.

The city of Arlington asked that Ashby’s ruling be vacated or modified in a petition filed in Tarrant County district court. The city says Ashby overstepped her authority because she did not just focus on the officer’s case, but instead made allegations against the department, the assistant chief and several other officers.

“Rather than restrain herself to those limited topics, the arbitrator instead chose to indulge in a lengthy indictment of Arlington Police Department officers, its management and its policies,” the motion said.

The petition also says the arbitrator’s ruling was “fraught with factual errors and blanket statements.”

The case began in 2017, when the officer was suspended and charged with dereliction of duty, insubordination and violating body camera policy. The officer had responded to a disturbance call in January 2017 and several of his supervisors, including Assistant Chief Kevin Kolbye, said the officer completed a “defective” police report.

The police department said the officer “failed to identify a witness when presented with one, failed to get a thorough statement from the witness, and failed to correctly report what the witness said in his offense report.”

However, Ashby said the officer’s supervisor never gave him the information he was accused of omitting from the report.

The Arlington Police Department maintains that the officer violated those policies and should not be repaid for his lost wages due to suspension. However, if the ruling cannot be revoked, the city said in the motion it should at least be modified to exclude the accusations against specific officers and the department as a whole.

Ashby making and including those accusations “is repulsive to public policy and potentially catastrophic to employees,” the city argues in the motion.

Since those employees were never charged with misconduct, alleging that they violated policy “short-circuits the police department’s disciplinary process,” the city says.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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