Thursday, August 16, 2001

City to appeal arbitrator's reinstatement of police officer

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati officials will try again to fire a police officer accused of planting drugs on a suspect.

        Police announced Wednesday that the city will appeal a recent arbitrator's decision that reinstated Officer John Sess, who was fired in 1997.

        The decision to appeal means that Mr. Sess, a 23-year police veteran, will not be allowed to return to work until a judge decides his case.

        City officials have frequently complained about arbitration decisions that required them to rehire police officers fired for misconduct.

        Of 11 officers fired since 1996 who took their cases to arbitration, every one has been rehired after a review by an arbitrator.

        The evidence in Mr. Sess' case revealed that he kept a bag of marijuana in his pocket after finding it earlier in the day in his police cruiser.

        During the interrogation of an unrelated drug offender, Mr. Sess put the bag in the suspect's pocket, pulled it out and asked if he'd forgotten about it.

        The suspect said the bag wasn't his, but admitted others found by officers did belong to him. The suspect later pleaded guilty to a drug offense, but he was never charged for possessing the bag of marijuana.

        The arbitrator said Officer Sess' actions were part of a legitimate maneuver to get a confession.

        Mr. Sess' lawyer, Stephen Lazarus, said his client was disappointed the city opted to appeal. He said the evidence did not support the firing of Mr. Sess.


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