Yakima City Officials Could Appeal Reinstatement of Fired Cop
YAKIMA, Wash. - City of Yakima officials are considering their next step in the case of a fired police officer who's just been ordered to be returned to duty.
An arbitrator ruled Tuesday that Mike Rummel must be re-instated and paid back wages. City Manager Dick Zais and Police Chief Sam Granato contends Rummel was fired for inappropriate behavior, that violated a "last chance" employment agreement.
The city now has a couple of options: they can ask the arbitrator for clarification, and to consider some new facts in the case, or they can appeal to superior court.
City Spokesman Randy Beehler says, "One issue has to do with a standing restraining order that prevents Mike Rummel from coming within 500 feet of the building that houses the police department. That obviously presents a problem with him serving as a police officer."
Beehler says it's also unclear how much money Rummel may be owed in back wages, but that the city could be forced to make cuts or dip into reserves to pay. The arbitrator or a judge may be able to help come up with a figure.
In a separate issue involving Rummel's termination, the State Public Employment Eommission ruled back in October that Police Chief Sam Granato fired rummel as retaliation against the police union.
Tuesday's ruling was different -- because the arbitrator decided that the reasons given for Rummel's termination didn't justify it.
Granato denies the retaliation accusations.
"I mean i have no reason to fire an employee to retaliate or violate their rights," he said. "I was a union president myself, understand those rights, i made a decision as a manager. Given the same circumstances again, I would make the exact same decision."
Zais has called the discrimination claims inaccurate and irresponsible.