Ore. city will pay $120K to cop fired for controversial Facebook posts

An official ruled that the City of West Linn owed the officer 17 months of back pay


By Eder Campuzano
The Oregonian

WEST LINN, Ore. — The city of West Linn will pay $120,000 in lost wages to the police officer fired last year for publishing racist posts on Facebook after losing an appeal against the award earlier this month.

In a news release, City Manager Eileen Stein said nobody involved in the original investigation of now-former West Linn police officer Tom Newberry's social media activity remains at the agency.

"It is now time to bring this matter to a close," she wrote.

An arbitrator ordered the city to pay Newberry at least $100,000 in August. Attorney Eric Lindauer said that although the police department was justified in firing the former officer, his behavior was known among the agency yet action wasn't taken until local media began reporting on the posts.

Many of Newberry's comments on Facebook endorsed violence against the Black Lives Matter movement and other progressive activists. When students at Portland State University staged a "die-in" to block traffic, Newberry shared an article about the protest and said, "Where's a pissed off redneck in a Kenworth when you need one?"

At various points, he also referred to African Americans and Black Lives Matter supporters as "ghetto rats," "cockroaches" and "morons," among other insults.

Newberry was employed by the West Linn Police Department for at least seven years and worked for the Portland Police Bureau before that.

He was fired in February 2017. West Linn police officials reviewed 131 posts Newberry published, which they said showed racial bias against African Americans and other minority groups. The Clackamas County Peace Officers' Association, a police union, filed an appeal the following month.

In August of 2018, Lindauer reviewed the same social media posts to make his decision and ruled the City of West Linn owed Newberry 17 months of back pay. Newberry earned an annual salary of $82,840 while he was employed by the police department.

The city pushed back against the ruling, saying the paying of back wages wasn't one of the discussed outcomes of Lindauer's review of the case.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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