Proposed law would allow court review of arbitration in excessive-force terminations

OKLAHOMA CITY — Owasso Police Lt. Mike Denton elbowed the suspect three times in the face, dragged him face-down by the handcuffs and stepped on his head.

The June 2011 incident, caught on video, prompted the Owasso Police Department to fire the veteran officer for violating an excessive-force policy. Denton disputed his termination, and an arbitrator ruled in his favor.
Denton is back on the force, albeit with a letter of reprimand, and last week Owasso agreed to pay him $283,420 in benefits and back pay.

On Thursday, an Oklahoma Senate committee will consider a measure that would allow district courts to review arbitrator decisions in termination cases involving officers accused of excessive force or aggravated sexual assault. Under current law, arbitrator decisions in such cases are binding.