Friday, October 3, 2003

Police union can't withdraw

Magistrate orders pact be followed

The Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio - A federal magistrate has refused to let Cincinnati's police union out of an agreement to work with the community to reduce crime.

The Fraternal Order of Police was one of several parties that signed an agreement in April 2002 to settle a lawsuit accusing police of harassing blacks.

The union denied the harassment allegations but said it signed the agreement to try to improve police-community relations after the riots of 2001.

Last May, the union asked to withdraw from the agreement. It said two provisions - settlement of individual lawsuits against the police department and creation of a system for the public to report favorable contacts with police - had not been fulfilled.

U.S. Magistrate Michael Merz ruled Wednesday that the union must follow procedures to resolve disputes as outlined in the agreement.

Roger Webster, president of the police union, said Thursday he will consult with the union's executive board and its lawyers before deciding whether to appeal Merz's decision.

Merz, based in Dayton, has supervisory authority over the agreement. His decisions can be appealed to U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott in Cincinnati.

The monitor overseeing the agreement said Wednesday that the parties have made progress, but several issues remain.

"The FOP voice at the table is needed, and its withdrawal would be a loss both for the officers and the community at large," the monitor, Detroit lawyer Saul Green, said in his quarterly report.

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