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Bill Of Rights Does Not Apply To Criminal Investigators From Different Agency

Robert Ebe was a deputy sheriff with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. In 2011, Ebe and his wife divorced, and Ebe moved out of the family home. At first, Ebe was living in the bunk room of the Department’s West Hollywood substation. In mid-2011, however, Ebe began renting a room from Cyril Osuchukwu, who owned a house in Woodland Hills. Ebe would stay in the room whenever he…

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Opportunity To Be Present At Hearing, Cross-Examine, Necessary Under Bill Of Rights

Jeffery Stump was a Master Sergeant for the Town of Middletown, Delaware. After an investigation, Stump was notified the Town of Middletown intended to demote him two ranks to Master Corporal. The demotion was accompanied with a reduction in pay and a probationary period of one year. Stump filed a grievance with the mayor and council of the Town of Middletown. After a review of the investigation, the mayor…

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Officers Fail To Request Administrative Hearing, Forfeiting Their Bill Of Rights Claims

Leonardo Ortiz and Michael Ayala were officers with the Los Angeles Police Department. On December 13, 2013, LAPD patrol received a broadcast report of a pursuit of a reckless driver in a Corvette. A pursuit ensued, which ended when the Corvette collided with a Nissan Sentra at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Los Angeles Street. The collision spun the Sentra down the street and onto the curb, shearing…

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Officer Wins Bill Of Rights Battle, Loses The War

California’s Peace Officers Bill of Rights provides that “no punitive action shall be undertaken for any act, omission, or other allegation of misconduct if the investigation of the allegation is not completed within one year of the public agency’s discovery by a person authorized to initiate an investigation of the allegation of an act, omission, or other misconduct.” A separate section of the Bill of Rights allows for the…

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Failure To Provide Reports Violates Bill Of Rights But Not Due Process

James Davis was a juvenile correctional officer supervisor for Fresno County, California. On July 26, 2013, the County gave Davis a notice of intended order for disciplinary action. The notice included an unsigned copy of a 12-page proposed order and stated Davis could make an oral or written reply within five days. The proposed order stated the Department had received numerous complaints of inappropriate conduct by Davis and several…

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Bill Of Rights Requires Administrative Appeal After Final Disciplinary Decision Made

On or about March 1, 2008, a citizen with whom Paulo Morgado interacted filed a complaint against him with the Office of Citizen Complaints of the San Francisco Police Department (OCC). Pursuant to its powers granted by the City Charter, the OCC investigated the alleged misconduct and shared its findings and disciplinary recommendations with the Police Chief. After further investigation by the Department’s internal affairs division, the Chief filed…

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Firefighters Lose Due Process, Bill Of Rights Claims

Patrick Leonard and Steven Barrett are Los Angeles firefighters. After they failed a psychological exam and were transferred out of the Arson Counter Terrorism Section, they sued the City claiming violations of due process and the California Peace Officer and Firefighter Procedural Bill of Rights Acts. The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the firefighters’ claims. With respect to the argument that their transfer violated their due process…

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What Is Reasonable Notice Of Disciplinary Charges?

California’s Police Officer’s Bill of Rights provides that a public safety officer under investigation by his or her department “shall be informed of the nature of the investigation prior to any interrogation.” A recent case out of the California Court of Appeals answered the question: How much “prior to” any interrogation must the officer be given that information? The case involved John Ellins, an officer for the Sierra Madre…

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Bill Of Rights Does Not Apply To Independent DA Investigation

Sergeant Mark Lopez was the chairman and president of the Scotts Valley Police Officers Association Charitable Foundation. A fellow officer, Dave Ball, was also on the board of the SVPOA. The SVPOA ran an annual fundraiser called “Cops and Rodders,” which raised funds to be distributed to local organizations and schools upon request. The funds were also used to award scholarships to college students. In June 2012, Ball told…

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Kentucky’s LEO Bill of Rights Applies to Internally Generated Complaints

In the 34 years that the State of Kentucky has had a Police Officer’s Bill of Rights statute providing due process for officers under internal investigation, the Kentucky Supreme Court had never considered the issue of whether the Bill of Rights applied exclusively to the investigation of complaints made by citizens as opposed to those generated internally. In December 2014, the Court decided in two consolidated cases that the…

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No Hearing Required Under Bill Of Rights For Transfer Without Economic Harm

One of the rights afforded public safety officers under California’s Public Safety Procedural Bill of Rights is an administrative appeal of any punitive action or denial of promotion on grounds other than merit. The Bill of Rights defines “punitive action” as “any action that may lead to dismissal, demotion, suspension, reduction in salary, written reprimand, or transfer for purposes of punishment.” In a recent case involving two members of…

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California Bill Of Rights Requires Personal Service Of Disciplinary Notice

Baron Earl, a parole officer, was disciplined by his employer, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, for conducting a purportedly unlawful search of a residence. When the discipline was upheld after an administrative hearing, Earl challenged the decision in the California Court of Appeals. Earl argued that the discipline should have been reversed because he was not provided proper notice under California’s Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of…

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Bill Of Rights Limitations Statute Begins Running Before Officer Is Identified

Section 3004(d)(1) of California’s Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights, which applies to law enforcement and fire protection personnel, establishes a one-year limitation on investigations of officer misconduct. Within a one-year period, a public agency must complete its investigation and notify the public safety officer that discipline may be taken. The one-year period begins to run upon the discovery by a person authorized to initiate an investigation of…

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California Bill Of Rights Claims Can Be Arbitrated

In June 2005, the City of Santa Rosa, California hired James Mitchel as a police captain. Beginning in 2007, various subordinate officers filed gender discrimination complaints against Mitchel and Police Chief Edwin Flint. In February 2008, the City informed Mitchel it had initiated an internal affairs investigation. Mitchel and the complainants were interviewed and an investigative report was prepared in March 2008, with a copy given to Mitchel. In…

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‘Not-Resolved’ Complaints Require Bill Of Rights Hearing

The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) represents all police officers, detectives, sergeants, and lieutenants in the City of Los Angeles. The City is subject to California’s Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights, Section 3304 of which provides that any public safety officer who is denied a promotion on grounds other than merit or who received a “punitive action” is entitled to an administrative appeal. In turn, a…

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Delay In Start Of Interrogation Caused By Officers, Not Department

California’s Public Safety Officers Bill of Rights Act requires that a disciplinary interrogation be conducted “at a reasonable hour” and “at a time when the public safety officer is on duty, or during normal waking hours” unless the “seriousness of the investigation requires otherwise.” A recent case from the Los Angeles Police Department dealt with the question of whether the Bill of Rights is violated if the delay in…

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If Time Limits In Bill Of Rights Not Met, Discipline Is Void

Under Louisiana’s Police Officer’s Bill of Rights, every investigation of a law enforcement officer “shall be completed within 60 days from the date that the investigation is initiated.” The Bill of Rights is specific as to the consequences of failing to meet this deadline, providing: “There shall be no discipline of any sort taken against a law enforcement officer unless the investigation complies with these minimum standards,” and any…

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Bill of Rights Does Not Impose Additional Duty Of Fair Representation

Laurie Bisch is an officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Officers in Metro are represented by the Las Vegas Police Protective Association (PPA). In 2008, while Bisch was off duty, her dog bit her daughter’s 17-year-old friend. Bisch took the girl to an urgent care facility for treatment. Unable to contact the girl’s mother and concerned that the urgent care would not provide treatment without a legal…

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End Of Criminal Investigation Starts Bill Of Rights’ Statute Of Limitations

On December 12, 2009, Patrick O’Hern was a police officer with the New Orleans Police Department. During his tour of duty, O’Hern left his patrol assignment and went to his private vehicle. He drove his vehicle to the top floor of a parking garage where he consumed a substantial portion of a fifth of whiskey, and ingested ten to 12 prescription Clonazepam tablets. O’Hern then discharged his police-assigned firearm…

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Release Of Watermelon Video Clip Not Violation Of Officer’s Rights

James Lewis and Wendy Hurley are San Francisco police officers who participated in a series of videos made by fellow SFPD Officer Andrew Cohen. Lewis and Hurley received 360-day suspensions for their actions in what became widely known as “Videogate.” Cohen himself quit the force. Lewis and Hurley acted out several skits in the videos including one in which Hurley, who is white, handed a watermelon to Lewis, who…

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Grievance Over Shop Stewards Not Preempted By Bill Of Rights

Montgomery County, Maryland and Lodge 35 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. On August 11, 2009, the FOP filed a grievance with an arbitrator pursuant to its collective bargaining agreement alleging that the County violated the Agreement when it unilaterally terminated a 20-year old practice of allowing shop stewards in training to attend disciplinary interrogations conducted by the Police Department’s Internal…

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Divided Kentucky Court Holds That Police Bill Of Rights Does Not Extend To Department-Initiated Complaints

In a 2-1 decision that seems likely to presage further appeals, the Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled that the State’s Police Officer Bill of Rights only applies to citizen-initiated complaints, not complaints initiated by a law enforcement agency itself. The case involved Todd Pearce, who had been terminated from his job as a police officer for the University of Louisville. The charges against Pearce included allegations that he…

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Union, Not Officer, Is Party To Arbitration Challenging Officer’s Termination

Lazario Ruiz was a police officer with the City of North Las Vegas, Nevada. Ruiz was a member of the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association. When the City fired Ruiz for untruthfulness, the Association challenged the decision in arbitration. An arbitrator upheld Ruiz’s discharge, finding that the City had just cause for its decision. The Association then assigned to Ruiz its right to challenge the arbitration decision, and…

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Placement On Unpaid Leave Is Disciplinary Action For Purposes Of Bill Of Rights

Under California’s Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act, employers must follow a number of procedures when imposing disciplinary action. Those rights include granting an officer the right to a hearing to challenge the employer’s action. The California Court of Appeals recently addressed whether the Bill of Rights applied when an employer places an officer on unpaid leave. The case involved Beatrice Sanchez, who worked for Riverside County…

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Time Limits In Bill Of Rights Only Applies To Externally-Generated Complaints

A provision in Florida’s statutory Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights provides: “Except as provided in this subsection, no disciplinary action, demotion, or dismissal shall be undertaken by an agency against a law enforcement officer or correctional officer for any act, omission, or other allegation of misconduct if the investigation of such allegation is not completed within 180 days after the date the agency receives notice of the allegation…

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