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Texas Disciplinary Procedures Do Not Create Property Right

On May 6, 2014, Stephen Stem, a second-year officer at the Hearne, Texas Police Department, was dispatched to the home of Hearne resident Pearlie Golden. Roy Jones, Golden’s nephew, placed the emergency call. Jones said Golden, who had recently failed a driver’s license renewal test, threatened him with a gun after he had taken away her car keys. Stem recounted that when he arrived at the home, Golden pointed…

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Contract Creates Property Right In Recall From Layoff

Alan Clukey was a police dispatcher with the Town of Camden, Maine Police Department for 31 years until the Department was eliminated in 2007 and he was laid off. At the time of his layoff, Clukey was the most senior employee in his department. The terms of Clukey’s employment with the Town were governed by a contract between the Town and the Fraternal Order of Police. One clause in…

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Kentucky ‘Auxiliary Sheriff’ Does Not Have Property Right To Job

Denny Adams was an “auxiliary sheriff” with the Fulton County, Kentucky Sheriff’s Department. The position was a volunteer position, and Adams never had an employment contract with the Sheriff’s Office and never received a salary for his efforts. He never took an oath of office nor was he issued a firearm. He was, however, given a badge and other forms of identification that associated him with the authority of…

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Police Chief Has Property Right To Job

Ken Thomason was the Chief for the City of St. Elmo, Illinois Police Department from February 1993 until November 2009. Shortly after Larry Tish was elected mayor in the spring of 2009, he met with Thomason and made clear and certain promises to Thomason of continued employment as Chief of Police. Things turned, however. The City terminated Thomason, and in a lawsuit filed later, Thomason alleged that “at a…

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Trooper-Lawyers Lose Ability To Practice

Before 2007, the New Jersey Code of Ethics and the New Jersey Division of State Police Standard Operating Procedure Manual permitted State Police employees, including troopers, to engage in the private practice of law with the Attorney General’s approval. A number of troopers engaged in the practice of law, writing wills, bringing and defending lawsuits, and drafting contracts. In 2007, the State Ethics Commission for the Department of Law…

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Injury Leave Does Not Extend Firefighter’s Probationary Period

The probationary periods of newly-hired employees are occasionally interrupted by injury or sick leave, used either for job-related or off-the-job injuries and illnesses. In the absence of specific language dealing with the issue, can an employer extend probationary periods by the amount of time missed due to leave? The federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals answered the question “no,” at least insofar as Illinois law is concerned. The case…

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No Constitutional Right To Paramedic Status

Bryan Braswell is a firefighter employed by the Shoreline, Washington Fire Department. Braswell became certified as a paramedic in 2003. Under Washington law, paramedic certificates are valid for three years, after which recertification is necessary. Paramedics employed by Shoreline work under the medical license of Dr. Gary Somers, a Program Medical Director for King County Emergency Medical Services, who is in charge of the Shoreline area. On November 30,…

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Statute Can Create Due Process Rights

Anthony Sawl, who has approximately 25 years of law enforcement experience, was hired as a patrol officer for the West Kittanning, Pennsylvania Police Department in October 2005, and was promoted to Lieutenant in January 2007. The Department employs fewer than three full-time officers. On September 29, 2007, a City Council member was involved in an incident at an event held at a local fire hall where the organizers had…

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Civil Service Hearing Meets Due Process Requirements

Matthew Skogen was a police officer with the City of Overland Park, Kansas. On March 30, 2008, Skogen was involved in an off-duty confrontation with his brother that a citizen reported to the Department. After investigating the matter, the Department terminated Skogen, who appealed to the Overland Park Civil Service Commission. When the Commission upheld his termination, Skogen filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that the Commission’s procedures…

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Explorer Scout Has No Property Right

Matthew Zwilling was a member of the Madison, Connecticut Police Explorer Post. When the City terminated him, Zwilling sued, claiming his termination violated his due process rights. A federal court rejected the lawsuit, finding that Zwilling had no property right to his position in the Explorer Post. The Court noted that “property interests are not created by the Constitution. Rather they are created and their dimensions are defined by…

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Volunteer Firefighters Have No Property Right To The Job

Brian Baker, Brian Jenkins, Gary Jenkins, and Brandon Jenkins were all volunteer firefighters for the City of Stanford, Kentucky. In 2006, they became concerned about the safety and reliability of the equipment being used by the Department. Their concerns included a lack of testing on hoses, a rusted-out battery compartment on a fire engine, faulty wiring systems for engine windshield wipers and headlights, a malfunctioning air tank, and a…

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No Property Interest In Commander’s Position In Chicago PD

John Matthews was a commander with the Chicago Police Department. In 2006, Matthews’ son was arrested, and despite being injured, was not promptly offered medical attention for his injuries. Following his son’s arrest, Matthews filed a complaint in an effort to initiate an investigation of the arresting officers. Subsequent to Matthews filing that complaint, a disciplinary complaint was filed against him. When he was demoted from the rank of…

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Extensive Disciplinary Procedures Do Not Create Property Right To Job

Carey Faulkner was employed by the City of Bartlett, Tennessee as a police officer beginning in 1999. On August 18, 2007, Faulkner held a party at her home which was attended by neighbors and police officer trainees. Drinking and nude swimming took place at the party, and Faulkner’s husband was subsequently charged with sexually assaulting one of the party guests. The local media reported about Faulkner’s party and previous…

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No Right To Hearing Prior To Removal As Paramedic

The memorandum of understanding (California’s equivalent to a collective bargaining agreement) between the San Diego Firefighters and the City of San Diego calls for premium pay for paramedics. The language in the MOU is that the premium is only paid to individuals “certified as paramedics.” There has been a longstanding agreement that the phrase “certified as paramedic” means “certified by the EMS medical director to operate as a paramedic…

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Due Process Not Needed Prior To Reorganization Which Resulted In Lieutenant’s Reduction To Sergeant

William Carlberg was a lieutenant with the New Hampshire Bureau of Highway Patrol and Enforcement. In 2007, Carlberg was deployed to active duty by the United States National Guard. While he was deployed, the Department reorganized, moving the Highway Patrol from the Division of Motor Vehicles into the Division of State Police. A collective bargaining agreement with terms relating to departmental reorganization was in effect at the time. The…

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Civil Service Commission Cannot Change Basis For Discipline

Christopher Parent is a police officer employed by the City of Bellevue, Nebraska. During firearm training on August 28, 2007, Parent had significant problems getting up from one knee throughout the course of the exercise. The City believed that Parent’s excessive weight caused the difficulty with the firearm training. The City eventually terminated Parent for violating the Department’s rules requiring officers to demonstrate appropriate physical endurance and agility. Parent…

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