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Police resolve labor disputes

When Hillsboro Police Chief Carey Sullivan unexpectedly turned in his resignation in early March, city and police union officials would not say whether labor issues played a role in his decision.

However, about a month after Sullivan’s March 9 departure, the city and the Hillsboro Police Officers Association (HPOA) have resolved a labor dispute that involved Sullivan. Further, the union has withdrawn two unfair labor practice complaints against the city related to the suit from the state Employment Relations Board.

Interim Police Chief Ron Louie said the resolution of labor disputes will help the Hillsboro Police Department get off to a fresh start.

“I’m confident things are getting better,” said Louie, who previously served as Hillsboro’s police chief from 1992 to 2003. “All grievances and lawsuits have now been officially resolved. Getting that off everybody’s shoulders, there is a sense of being able to move on.”

The lawsuit and complaints stemmed from Sullivan’s handling of an on-duty automobile accident by Hillsboro Police Officer David Morse in September 2012. Morse told responding Washington County Sheriff’s deputies that he was distracted by his cell phone.

The police department initiated an internal affairs investigation into the incident, and demanded Morse’s phone records. Morse initially declined to turn them over, citing privacy concerns. He surrendered the records in protest after being disciplined.

Morse and the HPOA then went to court to prevent the department from using the records in the investigation. They obtained a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against the city from two Washington County Circuit Court judges.

In early December 2012, after the internal affairs investigation began, the Hillsboro Police Department adopted a new policy requiring employees to turn over their cell phone records in certain conditions without subpoenas. HPOA filed an unfair labor practice complaint with ERB against the city on Feb. 1, claiming the city had not negotiated the policy with the union as required by the current collective bargaining agreement.

HPOA filed a second unfair labor practice agreement two weeks later. In the second filing, HPOA charged that the city was refusing to reimburse Hess and two other employees for time spent testifying under oath during a depositions request pertaining to the lawsuit. The three had been subpoenaed by city attorneys.

After Sullivan resigned, the HOPA withdrew the ERB complaints. Earlier this week, the two sides filed settlement papers with the court, formally ending the lawsuit.




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