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Four Philadelphia Police officers fired for alleged misconduct to return and receive back pay, arbitrators rule

Four Philadelphia police officers reinstated after arbitration process
Four Philadelphia police officers reinstated after arbitration process 03:03

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Four Philadelphia Police officers fired for alleged misconduct are allowed to return to work after arbitrators recently ruled in their favor.

The rulings will reduce their firings to suspensions and award them back pay, city records show.

In each case against these officers, the Philadelphia Police Department believed their actions were inappropriate enough for the officers to be fired.

The cases date back as far as 2019 and as recent as 2022. The accusations against them range from posting inappropriate and racist comments on Facebook to accusations of sexual assault.

CBS News Philadelphia has learned arbitrators presiding over their cases reversed the police department's decision to fire them and ruled a few weeks ago that they can return to work and receive back pay.

"It's definitely a concern," Catherine Hicks, the president of Philadelphia's branch of the NAACP, said.

Hicks said decisions like this can only hurt the relationship between police and the community.  

"How will [the officers] react in the community?" she said. "Have they had the proper training that will ensure us that we are safe?"

Hicks said she plans to meet with police and union leadership.

Civil rights attorney and professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School David Rudovsky said the arbitration process hugely favors an officer and places the burden on the city to prove its case.

"Nationally, only 25% of dismissals are overturned, in Philly, it's 70%. That's a huge number," he said. 

He said he believes the process needs to be reformed.

"The temptation is to compromise. Well, we had an officer who was fired, I'll reduce it to a 60-day suspension and now you have to give them back pay. A lot of that goes on," he said about the arbitration process. 

A spokesperson with Philadelphia Police wouldn't comment on the specific cases but said the department has since had a comprehensive review of protocols related to internal affairs investigations.

READ MORE: What Philadelphia needs from next mayor Cherelle Parker, police commissioner Kevin Bethel

He also said the police commissioner remains committed to building a fair and more transparent system.

The reinstated officers won't be made available for an interview, a spokesperson said. 

It's unclear how much these officers will receive in back pay, but the city and taxpayers will have to foot that bill.

CBS News Philadelphia reached out to the Police Union for a response and was told "no comment." 

CBS News Philadelphia reached out to the mayor's office and has not heard back. 

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