Arbitrator Uses Recklessness Standard For Judging Motor Vehicle Accident

A police officer for the City of Pueblo, Colorado was responding to a fellow officer’s “code 3” emergency call, using red and blue flashing lights and a siren. During the response, the officer was involved in an intersection collision with a sports utility vehicle. After an investigation, the Department imposed a one-day suspension on the officer.

An arbitrator overturned the officer’s suspension. The Arbitrator cited a Colorado Court of Appeals decision that a police officer operating an emergency vehicle would be shielded from civil liability unless the operation of the vehicle was with “reckless disregard for the safety of others.” The Arbitrator concluded that the “reckless disregard” standard should be applied in disciplinary cases involving motor vehicle accidents.

Turning to the case before him, the Arbitrator concluded that the officer’s conduct was mere negligence, and did not amount to recklessness. As such, the Arbitrator overturned the officer’s suspension.

City of Pueblo, Colorado and IBPO, Local 537, LAIG 6330 (Craig, 2006).

This article appears in the May 2006 issue