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What's an internal police trial board?

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
York City Police Department, 50 W. King Street, York. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

York City police officers facing discipline sometimes have their cases heard by a three-person internal trial board.

A trial board is a disciplinary tribunal and follows procedures outlined in the collective bargaining agreement between the White Rose Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police and the York City Police Department.

According to the police contract, one of the trial-board members is appointed by the police chief or commissioner and another is appointed by the president of the White Rose FOP.

The third member is a police officer with the rank of lieutenant or higher who is agreed on by both the union and the chief/commissioner, the contract states. If both sides can't agree on the third trial-board member, he or she is chosen by lot from a list of eligible officers' names, according to the contract.

Prior to the trial-board hearing, both sides have the right to receive all the opposing side's investigative reports, statements, photos and a list of witnesses to be called, the contract mandates.

Like a trial, the attorney on each side can cross-examine opposing witnesses and offer rebuttal.

"At the conclusion of the hearing, the Trial Board will, by majority vote and in writing, make findings of fact based on the evidence presented" and find the officer either guilty or not guilty of each internal charge that's been leveled.

The police chief or commissioner can approve, disapprove or change the findings and recommendations of the trial board — but can't change a not-guilty finding to guilty, according to the contract.

Officers found guilty can appeal their cases to arbitration.