Flint loses police arbitration case, will pay millions of dollars in compensation

Jul 8, 2011

The city of Flint has lost a multi-million dollar arbitration decision in a discrimination lawsuit involving city police officers.  

In 2006, former mayor Don Williamson created a new unit in the police department called the Citizens Service Bureau, or CSB.    Flint’s police unions objected to how the former mayor selected which officers would be promoted to the new unit. 

This week, independent arbitrators agreed with dozens of white Flint police officers who sued claiming that Williamson used ‘race’ as a primary factor in staffing the unit. 

Flint City Attorney Peter Bade says there was overwhelming evidence that Williamson 'disregarded any reasonably fair hiring practice in creating the CSB'. 

“So there’s no secret there were problems.  And in a bull headed approach…in what the panel (of arbitrators) described as “rash”…the Williamson administration went forward…and the panel concluded no only forward with the plan but directly retaliated against officers in violation of their first amendment rights.  That’s the panel’s conclusion.”  

The arbitrators ruled this week that the city owes the wronged police officers $3.8 million dollars in compensation.    City Attorney Bade says that will likely grow to five million dollars as interest and other fees add up, as the city tries to figure out how to its going to pay.  Bade says getting some of that money from Don Williamson is not an option. 

Flint is already struggling with a multi-million dollar budget gap.