Eight Philadelphia police officers who were fired or disciplined in 2008 after a television news helicopter captured them beating three shooting suspects are getting their jobs back or having their punishments reduced, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The arbitrator, from the American Arbitration Association, ruled that those suspended should receive back pay, lost overtime, and a reprimand. The decision further vindicates the officers, who were all cleared of wrongdoing by a Philadelphia grand jury.
“This is something we expected from Day One,” said John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge. “Now they can look forward to coming back to work and moving on with their lives. I’m sure it’s a big relief, not just for them but for their families.” Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, criticized by the union as acting too quickly in firing the officers in the weeks after the footage made the news, said he disagreed with the reinstatements. Police unions say arbitration protects officers’ rights, but administrators fear the process allows corrupt officers to return to work. Officers who have been fired for criminal infractions have been reinstated years later – often with back pay – after fighting their dismissals. Former Police Commissioner John Timoney has described the system as “mind-boggling” because of decisions that forced him to rehire officers fired for drug use, drunken driving, and domestic violence.