AKRON, Ohio — An Akron police officer who was fired in February has been reinstated to his former position after an arbitrator found his firing was excessive, according to the Fraternal Order of Police.
In February, Detective James Anthony was fired by the Akron Police Department following an investigation involving a controversial Facebook comment he made about the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Anthony had a separate controversial post just two weeks prior.
The investigation began in November 2018, during which Anthony was suspended without pay.
Anthony had been on the force for about 23 years before he was fired.
An arbitrator ruled that the amount of discipline given to Anthony was excessive and that Anthony be reinstated to his former position and rank, following a 60-day suspension, according to the Fraternal Order of Police.
The Akron Police Department is being asked to issue Anthony back pay to the date the 60-day suspension would have ended, the Fraternal Order of Police said.
On Dec. 27, the city announced that it will not appeal the arbitrator's decision regarding the level of punishment the officer received.
You can read the city's response below:
After careful consideration of the decision and legal precedent, the City has determined not to appeal the arbitrator’s decision regarding the discipline of Detective James Anthony. The arbitrator determined that Mr. Anthony’s conduct violated the City’s policies and was “deserving of major disciplinary action.” The arbitrator affirmed that the conduct was unacceptable and concluded that the appropriate level of discipline was a 60-day suspension, rather than termination. While the City strongly disagrees with the arbitrator about the appropriate level of discipline for these serious offenses, the decision was within the bounds of the arbitrator’s authority and the City will respect it. Therefore, as required by the arbitrator, James Anthony will return to his former position with the Akron Police Department Detective Bureau on January 6, 2020, and a 60-day suspension for a major offense will be placed in his personnel file.
The City will continue to manage its workforce appropriately in this era of pervasive use of social media, which can have a tremendous impact on our workplace and community. Used appropriately, social media can be a powerful tool for engagement and communication. However, if used inappropriately, social media can be a platform for harmful conduct that can breed distrust and fear, or inflict real harm upon individuals or organizations. Mayor Dan Horrigan and Chief Ball are acutely aware of the importance of building and maintaining the public trust, and are committed to fostering a culture of respect and inclusion, where officers conduct themselves with integrity and honor both on and off duty.
As Mayor Horrigan stated following the arbitrator’s decision, “The values of APD include ‘fair and impartial treatment of all individuals regardless of race, sex, gender, religion, or any other characteristic. Building trust and mutual respect with our diverse community is essential to effective policing. We recognize that the vast majority of our officers meet, and exceed, these standards every day as they serve and protect our citizens with fairness and respect. We will continue to strive for the highest standard of conduct and we will accept nothing less.”