February 9, 2009 in City

Spokane officer reinstated

By The Spokesman-Review

A Spokane police officer who had sex with a woman in a bar parking lot will be reinstated to the police force, after a union arbitrator determined he should have been suspended, not fired.

Jason Uberuaga will rejoin the police force on Wednesday as a patrol officer.

Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick fired Uberuaga after he used his department-issued cell phone to photograph a woman baring her breasts, then had sex with her in his patrol car in a tavern parking lot. Uberuaga was off duty at the time.

Uberuaga’s last day with the Police Department was Jan. 23, 2008.

The arbitrator ruled that Uberuaga was appropriately charged with conduct unbecoming an officer, but the penalty should have been a 60-day suspension rather than termination.

Uberuaga will receive about 10 1/2 months back pay.

Kirkpatrick said she wasn’t too surprised by the decision.

“That’s our system of justice, and I respect that,” she said. “He (the arbitrator) sustained the charge, but not the determination of discipline.”

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