Naked City

Enlow Case Over -- Or Is It?

After nearly nine months of waiting, an independent arbitrator on May 2 upheld the indefinite suspension (the civil-service equivalent of termination) of former Austin police officer Tim Enlow -- but not for the most serious charges leveled against him. Arbitrator Harold Moore upheld only four of APD's nearly 30 charges against Enlow, including taking police action off-duty and one count (out of nearly 25 allegations) of dishonesty -- for claiming in a police report that he had dropped an "item" while in pursuit of a suspect. The item in question was a gun; Moore apparently agreed with the city that Enlow was dishonest by not saying it was a gun.

But Moore failed to agree with the city on the majority of its charges, including the explosive charge of racial profiling, which stemmed from Enlow's pursuit of two African-American teens in the parking lot of a Fiesta grocery in March 2001. It wasn't long before that charge morphed into "failure to maintain an impartial attitude" -- likely because APD had not yet implemented a racial-profiling policy at the time of the incident. (However, APD brass, including Chief Stan Knee, had already told the media that Enlow had been fired for racial profiling.) Enlow and his attorney, former Mesquite police officer Mike Rickman, told the Chronicle they see the decision as a win-lose situation. "I am relieved that it is over," Enlow said, "but it is over and it's not over."

Neither Enlow nor Rickman completely understands how Moore reached his final conclusions. "It is not a big leap to claim a victory. Maybe not a leap at all," Rickman wrote in a May 6 e-mail. "I am disappointed with the award. I believe Tim should have been reinstated. ... After all, [Knee] did execute a suspension letter with untrue statements contained therein. They threw so many charges at Tim that something had to stick. The charges sustained in the letter, in my opinion, were not egregious enough to warrant an indefinite suspension."

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