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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: June 9, 2020 03:35 PM
From: Representative Russ Diamond and Rep. Jim Cox, Rep. Paul Schemel
To: All House members
Subject: Act 111 Arbitration Reform – Transparency and Police Officer Accountability
We are preparing to introduce legislation to reform Act 111 of 1968 to exempt discipline for certain types of on-the-job infractions by police officers from the collective bargaining and binding arbitration processes. If we want to confront police misconduct in a serious way, removing barriers to accountability and increasing transparency in the collective bargaining and arbitration processes must be one of our first steps.
Police misconduct that stems from racism is the most insidious, especially when it involves the excessive use of force, the violation of a constitutional right or conduct that constitutes a criminal offense by the officer. We recognize injustice when we see it, and we are committed to reforms that we believe will begin to change the culture in law enforcement agencies. There should be no barrier to employment consequences for officers who commit these types of infractions, whether they are related to racist intent or any other reason.
Unfortunately, collectively bargained policies and procedures for discipline of police officers can often shield bad actors from workplace accountability for their actions. Likewise, the failure to seek public input on collective bargaining agreements before they are signed, or to open binding arbitration hearings to the public, has the effect of keeping the policed communities in the dark about the disciplinary procedures for officers who commit serious infractions – and the cost of these contracts to the community.
To provide more accountability and transparency, our bill would amend Act 111 to:
  • Provide that discipline of an officer for certain types of infractions will be the sole purview of the employer. Unions will not be able to use collective bargaining agreements or binding arbitration to shield officers who:

    • Commit a criminal offense,
    • Use force in violation of departmental policy or state or federal law, or
    • Violate the constitutional rights of any person.

  • Require public posting and public comment on proposed collective bargaining agreements, so that the residents of an area can provide their feedback before the agreement is ratified.
  • Open binding arbitration hearings to the public, and require more information to be provided publicly in arbitration determinations.
The vast majority of police officers are good and honorable public servants, and it is often a few bad apples, shielded from accountability for their actions, who receive the most public attention. This legislation is not going to solve all the world's problems, but removing rules that block accountability and transparency are a good start. We look forward to working with any of our colleagues who are truly committed to making a positive change, and we hope you will join us as cosponsors.

Introduced as HB2852