Akron Drug Policy Tested

Akron Drug Policy Tested
Posted by FoM on August 12, 2000 at 07:36:10 PT
By Gregory Korte, Beacon Journal Staff Writer 
Source: Akron Beacon Journal
Kenneth Clark and Elmore Williams Jr. were both 19-year veterans of the Akron Police Department.Both tested positive for marijuana after routine drug tests. Both were subject to the same ``zero tolerance'' drug policy and were fired. Clark, however, was reinstated by Akron's Civil Service Commission last year. But after six years of appeals, a Summit County Common Pleas judge ruled this week that Williams was not entitled to get his job back.
What's the difference?``Kenneth Clark is white, and much loved apparently. Elmore Williams is, I hate to say it, just another black man,'' said Leonard Hazelett, Williams' attorney.Clark also received many letters of commendation from various police officers and elected officials, including former Police Chief Larry Givens, now a county councilman.City officials have denied any racial discrepancy in how the drug policy is enforced. In fact, the city administration pushed for both Clark and Williams to be fired, only to have Clark's firing reinstated by the Civil Service Commission.The controversial decision to return Clark to the force came in a rare 2-1 vote by the commission and led to a debate over the meaning of the city's ``zero tolerance'' policy. Mayor Don Plusquellic later issued a memo to the city's safety forces declaring that he would continue to fire any police officer or firefighter who used illegal drugs.In Williams' case, Judge Brenda Burnham Unruh said the city is justified in holding police officers to a higher standard than other employees. She ruled that Williams' firing was ``not improper.''``Although the court believes the plaintiff's dismissal was a severe punishment, the court also believes that the plaintiff knew that his choice to smoke marijuana could lead to the loss of his job,'' she wrote in a six-page opinion issued Wednesday.The Williams case has a long procedural history. The Civil Service Commission upheld his firing in 1994, but Judge Michael Callahan (now county prosecutor) overturned that decision on technical grounds. The 9th District Court of Appeals reversed Callahan's ruling, sending the case back to Judge Unruh, who upheld the firing.Williams' attorney said he may appeal Unruh's decision once again.Gregory Korte can be reached at 330-996-3542 or gkorte thebeaconjournal.comPublished Saturday, August 12, 2000The Beacon Journal Publishing Co.CannabisNews Police Archives:
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