MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

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Local News

June 16, 2010

Grievances allege problems with police department decisions

— Two grievances, one from a terminated police officer and one from a working officer, have been filed with the city of Muskogee.

Zack Banning is appealing a Board of Supervisors termination after he was arrested in early April on a complaint of driving under the influence.

Banning, 35, tested .26 on a blood alcohol test. Legally intoxicated in Oklahoma is .08.

Banning’s attorney, John Wright, said he will be defending Banning at a City Merit Board hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. June 28.

“We have several things in the past practices of what the police have done with other officers with alcohol problems in the past,” Wright said. “We think that is relevant. He admitted he made a mistake. He went into rehabilitation and got treatment.”

The second grievance filed recently by a police officer was filed by Fraternal Order of Police President Bryan Stark on behalf of lodge member Frank Hardcastle.

There were some shift changes made at the department in April. The grievance states prior to the April shift changes, Hardcastle sent an e-mail requesting assignment to the Patrol Division to Police Chief Rex Eskridge, Deputy Chief Johnny Teehee, Major Tommy Knight, Major Reggie Cotton and Major Mark Hudson.

Hardcastle was on leave prior to the shift change and returned back to work April 26 to learn that he was assigned to the Investigations Division, which was not what he requested.

The grievance noted the bargaining agreement between the FOP and the Police Department says seniority shall prevail in shift assignment.

It was noted Hardcastle was the senior captain in the department, with a date of rank of June 20, 1997.

“It has been a past practice of the Muskogee Police Department that if you request to be assigned to the Patrol Division you are reassigned at that requested time.”

Hardcastle made his request and has not been reassigned.

Eskridge said he couldn’t comment before the hearing. The city clerk is trying to get a hearing date set, he said. City Clerk Pam Bush was out of her office Tuesday afternoon.

Reach Donna Hales at 684-2923 or dhales@muskogeephoenix.com.

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