A New Hampshire Police Department is refusing a labor arbitrator's ruling to reinstate a police officer who the department found had made racist comments and intentionally damaged property.
Manchester Police Officer Aaron Brown was fired from the department in 2018 after a complaint against him prompted an investigation that uncovered he had sent "text messages that included extremely disturbing racist remarks," according to a Friday statement from the Manchester Police Department.
The investigation also uncovered that Brown sent texts on his department-issued cell phone claiming "to have intentionally damaged property while executing search warrants."
A criminal investigation into the destruction of property allegations followed, but there was not enough evidence to file charges.
Still, the Manchester Police Department, under Chief Nick Willard, fired Brown in April when the internal investigation was concluded.
The Manchester Police Patrolman Association filed a grievance over Brown’s termination, which culminated in 2019 with an arbitrator ruling that "Brown’s racist comments were egregious and had no place in law enforcement" but still should not have been fired.
The arbitrator ruled that Brown should have been suspended for 30 days, and should be rehired and paid backpay minus salary for those 30 days.
"We are extremely saddened and sickened to see that an arbitrator could rule in this manner after hearing this egregious case," the department's statement said.
The statement said the arbitrator's ruling is binding and the department is "forced" to follow the decision. "However, Chief Carlo Capano refused to implement the arbitrator’s reinstatement order," the statement said.
A subsequent unfair labor practice charge filed by the union is pending.
The Manchester Police Patrolman Association did not respond to voicemails seeking comment. Brown's attorney also did immediately not respond to multiple requests for comment.
"As it has from the outset, the Manchester Police Department believes that people that hold racist beliefs should not be employed in law enforcement," the department's statement said.
“Manchester police officers take pride in the community we serve and the uniform we wear. Aaron Brown’s actions cast a shadow on this agency, but those actions are not representative of this police department as a whole," Capano said. "We will do everything possible to make sure Brown is never in a Manchester Police Uniform again."