DENVER (CBS4) – An arbitration board has ruled Denver Police Chief Robert White acted appropriately and within his authority when he reorganized the Denver Police Department into a “team” concept, a concept that has led to strenuous objections from the Denver Police Protective Association, the organization representing most Denver Police Officers.
The PPA has claimed that the reorganization into a team concept has contributed to lengthy delays in police response to 911 calls.
“Obviously we don’t agree with the arbitrators interpretation of what’s in the operations manual, in the charter and how the contract reads,” said Police Protective Association Board Member Sgt. Bryan O’Neill. “Even though we don’t agree with the interpretation we’re going to move forward and respect the decision.”
CBS4 obtained a copy of the decision Tuesday.
The arbitration board decision came after the the police protective association filed a grievance claiming the city violated the collective bargaining agreement when the police department went to the team concept. The PPA specifically objected to how officers were awarded vacation time under the new structure. But had they prevailed with their grievance, it would have “decimated” the department’s team concept, according to police officials.
The police department restructuring was effective Jan. 1, 2013, reorganizing each district into 12 teams. The goal was to improve the operational efficiency, accountability and productivity of the department with consistent supervision and the same team working the same precinct each day of the week, allowing officers and the community to get to know each other better.
In its ruling, independent arbitrator Harry Maclean wrote:”
“The evidence was overwhelming that the implementation of the team concept has increased the operational efficiency of the department.”
Maclean also wrote that “the testimony as to the beneficial effects of the reorganization was persuasive. The Chief was clearly acting within the authority reserved to him in the Charter to reorganize the department. The new team models are sound and unquestionably beneficial.”
In striking down the PPA’s grievance, Maclean wrote, “Officers have also benefited from consistency in their supervision and evaluations and in the ability to make long range plans.”
Said PPA board member O’Neill: “It is binding. We have to live with the decision, win or lose.”
Denver City Attorney Doug Friednash told CBS4 “We are pleased with the arbitration award dismissing the union’s grievance, for many reasons. First, the decision acknowledges the various operational efficiencies that are a direct result of Chief White’s reorganization of the Denver Police Department. Second, it recognizes how recent staffing changes in the department have benefited the public, as well as the City’s police officers. Most of all, the arbitrator’s decision is a clear restatement of the broad management rights granted to the City by the Charter, which have been preserved by the arbitrator.”
The arbitration board was comprised of an attorney, unaffiliated with either the PPA or the city, a Denver City Attorney and PPA board member O’Neill. The final vote on the grievance was 2-1 with O’Neill casting the dissenting vote.
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com