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Published: Tuesday, 2/14/2006

Arbitrator reinstates fired police officer

Bryce Bryce

An arbitrator has ruled that a fired Toledo police officer is to be reinstated after her union won a grievance filed over her termination.

Cherie Bryce was a 22-year veteran of the force when she was fired in August, 2004. She was accused of punching, kicking, and biting a fellow officer during a party on July 4, 2004, in Oregon and was found guilty of three administrative charges. She was not charged criminally.

The Toledo Police Patrolman's Association said her punishment was more severe than discipline given to other officers and firefighters accused in on-duty and off-duty incidents.

"It was clearly a case of disparate treatment," said Dan Wagner, union vice president.

The arbitrator agreed, saying such treatment was present.

Deputy Chief Mike Navarre, who was chief at the time of the firing and who concurred with the recommendation for dismissal, said he knew the case would be difficult to present to the arbitrator "because of a lot of past incidents that occurred before I became chief of police."

"Notwithstanding what the arbitrator said, dismissal was the proper recommendation," he said, adding that he took a harsher stance on discipline than prior chiefs. "I think the arbitrator would have better served by considering comparison cases during my tenure and not prior to it. If he had, then he would have come to the same conclusions I did."

The union said Officer Bryce had disciplinary problems after filing an internal sexual harassment claim in 2003 and charges with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, which were later settled. Mr. Wagner said the union also believes the firing stemmed from an incident between the officer and then-Chief Navarre.

Donato Iorio, an attorney representing the TPPA, said the union was pleased with the decision in which "a wrong was righted."

"It's not good for officer morale when the chief prejudges and predetermines the outcome without taking a fair and objective look at the facts and the evidence," he said.

Mr. Wagner notified Officer Bryce, who retired after she was fired. He said she was pleased, and he thinks she'll return to the force.

Mr. Wagner said he was going to make arrangements with the police and fire pension board to pay back Officer's Bryce's pension payments.

The arbitrator said she is to be paid from the date of her discharge through the date of his decision.

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