A civilian review panel on Wednesday reversed a decision by former Pine Bluff Police Chief Ivan Whitfield to fire a police officer for abusing the department’s sick leave policy.
Officer Porsha Williams, who had been on the job for almost five years, was fired after, according to testimony at her hearing Feb. 27, she missed 29 days in one year. Whitfield said that the department had also given her “probably an additional 29 days.”
The review panel, which replaced the Civil Service Commission, which was abolished by the City Council, elected to suspend Williams for 60 days. She will get credit for the time served and will be able to return to duty April 2. When she does, she will be on probation for six months.
The disposition report from the panel said that during the six-month probation, Williams must have no disciplinary infractions, must complete her two remaining counseling sessions, must get any leave approved per standard department procedures, and any other infractions related to sick leave except those protected by law (Family Medical Leave Act and Americans With Disability Act) will result in termination.
A second review panel reduced from five to three days the suspension that Whitfield had given Officer Chelsea Walters, who used her patrol car’s blue lights and siren to get out of a crowded parking lot on Black Friday.
At the hearing for Walters, Whitfield said department policy is very clear on the use of blue lights and sirens and requires an officer to request permission from a supervisor to use them.
Walters testified that she was on the parking lot of Walmart when a call was dispatched of a domestic disturbance on Camden Road at Interstate 530 and she used her lights and siren to clear traffic and respond to the call. Whitfield testified that there were two police units closer and that Walters did not need to use the lights and siren.