UPDATE In May (“Badge of Blame”), we told you about the park police lawsuit against the city, in which the park coppers contend that they should get regular police benefits and promotions, and argue that they do everything regular officers do. Now the hardball gets harder. An assistant city attorney recently sent a settlement offer coupled with a blunt threat: If the plaintiffs don’t drop the suit, they’ll probably lose their jobs.
Tim Kelly, attorney for the park police, says the settlement will likely be rejected; if so, the case may go to trial this month. Still separating the two sides is the question of liability. If the park cops were converted to full-fledged city officers without the six-month training period demanded by the city, could the city be held liable in the event a park cop shot a citizen? The city settlement offer would allow the park officers to cross over after completing polygraph and psychological testing, after which the city would waive the six-month training stint. The park forces, of course, argue that they’ve already had adequate training.
In mid-June, some police substations began ordering their park plaintiffs to confine themselves to parks only, rather than answering calls in whatever area of the city they are needed. (Park officer MIKE HUBNER, wounded in a June shooting, was on a regular call with a Dallas police officer. ) The confinement apparently resulted from fears that continuing to let park police answer calls might hurt the city’s case. “What liability will the city have for a civilian that dies two blocks away because we have to sit?”
asks park cop AL PAGAN.