MANSFIELD -- An arbitrator will determine the punishment of a Mansfield police officer suspended for 60 working days without pay on Oct. 20 for dragging a handcuffed Black teenager during an incident on West Fourth Street.
Officer Jordan Moore, 24, has filed a grievance regarding the punishment, saying it was "improper" and violated the "just cause progressive discipline" provision of the city's contract with the Fraternal Order of Police.
The incident occurred on Oct. 12. Moore was initially placed on paid administrative leave while the incident, which was captured on video and widely spread through social media, was reviewed by Chief Keith Porch and Safety-Service Director Lori Cope.
Moore is a member of the blue unit of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), William Taylor Lodge 32.
In his grievance, Moore asked the "improper action" be removed from his personnel file and "be made whole all losses economic and other."
He initially filed with his grievance with his immediate supervisor, Sgt. Tonelli Webb. It was passed up the chain of command to Capt. Doug Noblet, Porch and then Cope, who said the issue "was unable to resolve at this level."
That moves the grievance to arbitration, a hearing during which an FOP attorney will represent Moore. The union and the city will choose the arbitrator. The arbitrator has a wide range of options, including upholding the entire 60-day suspension, reducing it or even to overturn it entirely.
During a Town Hall meeting on Oct. 23 sponsored by the Black/Brown Coalition, Alomar Davenport, the 4th Ward representative on Mansfield City Council, said the suspension was correct and cautioned residents about the power of police unions.
Davenport said unions are valuable tools to protect workers. However, he said police union contracts around the country afford officers a great deal of protection and that disciplinary actions are often overturned in arbitration.
"What we have to look at, and what is reality, is in these particular situations, the extent of protection in police contracts have a direct correlation to police violence and other injustices we as a community may feel at the hands of police," Davenport said.
"The mechanisms that are designed for disciplinary action are really toothless because of the ability of the (police) union to do what they are able to do. Police unions are extremely powerful here in our society.
"The robust protections afforded to officers like qualified immunity and things of that nature embolden them and allows them to do things (like the dragging incident on West Fourth Street) even though they see cameras there recording what they are doing. They know they are protected so they feel they can do it," Davenport said during the meeting.
Moore, is a Willard native who graduated from the police academy in May 2017. He was hired by the Mansfield Police Department in July 2018 after stints at the New Washington and Sandusky police departments.