Controversial Mpls. police officer gets job back

Arbitrator orders Minneapolis to rehire fired police officer

MINNEAPOLIS - An arbitrator has ordered the City of Minneapolis to rehire a police officer who was fired for violating department policies on use of force.

Officer Blayne Lehner, an 18-year-veteran of the force, was fired in January.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said Lehner pushed a woman to the ground, called the woman a derogatory name and didn't report the use of force.

Chief Harteau wrote in termination papers: "I have lost all confidence in Officer Lehner's ability to serve the citizens of Minneapolis due to his poor judgment and his lack of integrity."

But earlier this month, Stephen F. Befort , an arbitrator, ruled that the city went too far.

Befort reduced the termination to a 40 hour unpaid suspension and ordered the city to pay Lehner the salary he would have made this year, about $40 thousand dollars, according to the police union.

Before getting his job back, Lehner also won a big legal battle.

In March, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to remove indemnification in an unrelated brutality lawsuit, meaning if Lehner lost, he would have to pay damages himself.

But in the end, blaming legal issues, the city went ahead and paid the plaintiff $360,000 to settle for Lehner. 

The then-ex-cop only had to pay $3,000.

Lehner came out on top financially and got his job back.

But Chief Harteau does not sound happy with the ruling. "I am disappointed in the arbitrator's decision. These rulings hinder my ability, as a Police Chief, to create an effective culture of accountability within the Department," Chief Harteau wrote in a statement Tuesday.

Here is a link to the PDF of full arbitrator ruling
http://mn.gov/bms/documents/BMS/127868-20161006-Mpls.pdf#


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