AZ Police Asn Bill Passes Senate – Just Cause for Officers

In times when bills are not being introduced or heard in Arizona, the Arizona Police Association was able to introduce Senate Bill SB1029, a Just Cause Bill for officers.  The purpose of the bill – it prohibits disciplinary action against a law enforcement officer except for just cause.  Today, the bill passed the Senate today!  This is a huge victory for Arizona officers if this bill passes.

Arizona Police Association – Just Cause Bill Language

VIEW THE AZ LEGISLATURE WEBSITE HERE

FACT SHEET FOR S.B. 1029

law enforcement officers; disciplinary actions

Purpose

            Prohibits disciplinary action against a law enforcement officer except for just cause.

Background

Current statute requires counties with populations of more than 250,000 inhabitants to establish a merit system council (Council) for law enforcement officers, which includes regularly appointed and paid police officers in cities or towns and deputy sheriffs (A.R.S. § 38-1002).  Among other responsibilities, Councils must fix and refix standards and qualifications of law enforcement positions and provide a plan for fair and impartial dismissal of officers.  Councils must also hear and review appeals in connection with suspension, demotion or dismissal of officers (A.R.S. § 38-1003).  Either party may appeal the decision of the Council in the superior court of the county in which the law enforcement officer resides. 

Statute outlines conduct for which Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers may be dismissed or disciplined.  Causes include fraud or misrepresentation in securing employment, incompetency, insubordination, dishonesty, being impaired by alcohol or drugs while on duty, commission of a felony, discourteous treatment of the public or other employees and any other failure of good behavior or acts during or outside of duty hours that are incompatible with the interest of DPS (A.R.S. § 41-1830.15).  Statute also outlines appeals procedures for DPS officers.

There is no anticipated fiscal impact to the state General Fund associated with this legislation.

Provisions

1.      Prohibits a law enforcement officer from being subject to disciplinary action except for just cause, as follows:

a)      the employer informed the officer of the possible disciplinary action resulting from the officer’s conduct through agency manuals, employee handbooks, the employer’s rules and regulations or other communications to the officer or the conduct was such that the officer should have reasonably known disciplinary action could occur;

b)      the disciplinary action is reasonably related to the standards of conduct for a professional law enforcement officer, the mission of the agency, the orderly, efficient or safe operation of the agency or the officer’s fitness for duty;

c)      the discipline is supported by a preponderance of evidence that the conduct occurred;

d)     the discipline is not excessive and is reasonably related to the seriousness of the offense and the officer’s service record.

 

2.      Specifies that the requirement does not apply to:

a)      any law enforcement officer who has not completed an initial probationary period if a probationary period is required by the employer or

b)      to a dismissal that is for administrative purposes, including a reduction in force.

 

3.      Stipulates that the requirement does not preempt agreements that supplant, revise or otherwise alter the provisions of this section, including preexisting agreements, between the employer and the law enforcement officer’s lawful representative association.

 

4.      Defines disciplinary action as the dismissal, demotion or suspension for more than 24 hours of a law enforcement officer or probation officer that is authorized by statute, charter or ordinance and that is subject to a hearing or other procedure by a local merit board, a civil service board, an administrative law judge or a hearing officer.

 

5.      Defines law enforcement officer as:

a)      an individual who is certified by the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, other than a person employed by a multi-county water conservation district;

b)      a detention officer or correction officer who is employed by the state or a political subdivision;

c)      a regularly appointed and paid deputy sheriff of a county;

d)     a regularly employed police officer in a city or town.

 

6.      Becomes effective on the general effective date.

 

Letter from MPA to Senators:

Dear Senators,

As you know, police officers are charged with ensuring our
constitutions work and laws are enforced. They ensure rights are
preserved and people are protected from victimization.

As bedrocks of due process, it is right and just that officers be
extended due process to the extent possible. This bill is an absolute
step in the right direction. By extending just cause to police officers,
you are ensuring confirmation and congruence that due process is the
best method for dealing with alleged misconduct.

Therefore, the front-line Officers of the Mesa Police Association fully
and totally support passage of the just cause bill. We encourage and
appreciate your full support for SB1029.

Respectfully,

Fabian Cota, President
Mesa Police Association
www.MesaMPA.Com