COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – An arbitrator has reached a decision in a dispute involving Columbus’ police officers union and the special prosecutor hired by the city to investigate police conduct.
The dispute stems from the ongoing probe into protests following George Floyd’s death during the summer of 2020.
The decision could be a step forward in an investigation that has been stalled for nearly a year.
The special prosecutor and special investigator have had trouble getting Columbus police officers to speak to them as witnesses as they try to get to the bottom of a litany of grievances filed against officers during the protests.
The Fraternal Order of Police filed a grievance in March 2021, saying the union contract protects officers from having to participate in an investigation that could lead to criminal charges against a fellow officer.
The arbitrator denied a portion of that grievance, writing the city can compel officers to testify as witnesses in a criminal investigation.
However, the decision narrows down the definition of “witness,” ordering the city to stop compelling internal affairs officers, supervisors, and union reps of those under investigation to be interviewed.
When two parties agree to arbitration, the arbitrator’s decision is considered legally binding.