I am hoping to be able to get out a column monthly with some legal updates that might assist, or be of interest to our members. Along with the entire CLEAA Board, I am happy with the growth and development of our organization, and think that we have established good working relationships with our Directors/Sheriffs/Chiefs.
One of the most concerning issues facing our members lately involves the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST). In a recent case of a fired police officer we appealed the termination, won the appeal and the department was ordered to reinstate the officer with back pay. You would think the story would end there and that the officer would continue on with his job. However, we now see that if a department is not willing to accept the fair appeal process, they can dump all of this back on POST and hope for relief there.
In this case, POST got the case and alleged the same allegations that were proven to be untrue during the hearing. In the end the POST Board voted to revoke this officer’s termination.
This is not an isolated incident. Just in the past 2 years there have been several other cases where an officer receives some type of discipline, it is appealed, we win at that level, and then POST issues a revocation or suspension of such length that the officer has to be terminated.
One of the basic problems we face is that the POST compliance officers get the entire investigative file from the department which of course says that the officer should be terminated. However, they don’t get copies of the appeal hearings and it is my experience that the appeal hearings carry very little weight with those people (even though it is the first step in presenting evidence, by both sides, and calling witnesses to argue the case).
Even though I have been dealing with POST issues for almost 20 years, I don’t remember any time where these types of issues have come up as frequently. As far as solutions to this problem, I don’t think anything can be done under the current Rules/Statutes. That might be an area that our legislative people take a look at.
Lead Legal Counsel