On Tuesday, October 28, 2014, the Senate Public Safety and House of Representatives Public Safety, Military and Regulatory Affairs Committees met in regards to the sunset review for the Law Enforcement Merit System Council (LEMSC). You can watch the video of the meeting here: http://azleg.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=22&clip_id=14616.
I attended and spoke on behalf of our members for the continuation of LEMSC. Many points from the letter AHPA sent to the committees were reiterated (see the letter here at: http://aztroopers.wpengine.com/news-issues/ahpa-encourages-continuation-of-the-law-enforcement-merit-system-council).
From the start, AHPA opposed the changes to LEMSC during Personnel Reform (http://aztroopers.wpengine.com/?s=personnel+reform). During the hearing, Representative Sonny Borrelli asked me how the change happened. I replied with a brief history on personnel reform, and how AHPA worked tirelessly on the language with Governor Brewer’s office. The position of AHPA has always been to leave the disciplinary appeals process as it was prior to the changes made in 2012; any decision by LEMSC was final. However, the legislature, agency and Governor at the time, agreed to essentially lessen the authority of LEMSC. The agency now has the authority to overturn a decision by LEMSC.
Others who spoke at the hearing also objected to LEMSC’s authority changes. The LEMSC Business Manager stated the council has operated efficiently and the personnel reform changes have and will result in more litigation. Gail Goodman, the chair of LEMSC, has been with the council since April 2001, serving under the old and new laws. She explained LEMSC reheard cases and upheld, made a contrary recommendation or overturned discipline entirely. Goodman now feels LEMSC’s “authority has been gutted”.
The committees voted unanimously to continue the Law Enforcement Merit System Council for another eight (8) years. AHPA will work with legislative leaders during the upcoming session to craft and pass effective language giving LEMSC the authority it once had.