Oversight of misconduct by police in the City of Buffalo is primarily conducted through a private arbitration process that takes place outside of the court system. The City and police union jointly select and pay for the arbitrator. On Friday, the arbitrator, Jeffrey M. Selchick, Esq., issued yet another decision finding no violation of internal police policies.
Melissa D. Wischerath, attorney for Martin Gugino said, “We are not surprised by the ruling. We are not aware of any case where this arbitrator has ruled against on-duty police officers so his ruling here on behalf of the police was not only expected by us, but was certainly expected by the union and city who selected and paid him. His decision has absolutely no bearing on the pending lawsuit.”
The scope of the private arbitration was limited by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, Inc. and the City of Buffalo, New York. The arbitrator was not charged with reviewing or applying constitutional law in reaching his decision.
Wischerath, added, “This private mediation should not be confused with an independent, transparent and public court proceeding. The arbitration was held in a closed boardroom. The arbitrator has an extensive history of ruling on behalf of on-duty police officers even where, like here, there is video evidence of wrongdoing.”
Robert Corp, another attorney working on the case, stated “This is yet another example of the need for an independent and transparent civilian review board in Buffalo to investigate allegations of police misconduct with final disciplinary authority over officers and subpoena power.”
Richard Weisbeck, another attorney working on the case, added, “It has always been the reality that the only true path for justice for Martin Gugino is the civil action that he has filed against the City of Buffalo. This decision further serves to perpetuate and justify state violence against citizens and is a further assault on civil liberties.”
“This private arbitration is not about justice, said Wischerath, it is about protecting police misconduct.”