HB2377 was passed by both House and Senate and is now awaiting the signature of Governor Ducey. As you may recall, this bill was aimed at correcting two key issues in Title 41 that were modified during Personnel Reform in 2012.
The first issue dealt with appeals before LEMSC. The changes in 2012 allowed the agency head to have another “bite at the apple” for any decisions made by LEMSC in disciplinary appeals hearings. In essence, the agency head was allowed to essentially overturn a final decision by LEMSC. Prior to that change, both the agency and employee had the ability to appeal a LEMSC decision to superior court.
The other issue was including “just cause” language within Title 41 to mirror what is currently in Title 38, also knows as the peace officer bill of rights. Now, discipline must be based on just cause as defined in Title 38, which states:
7. “Just cause” means:
(a) The employer informed the law enforcement 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.
Due to opposition from other agency heads that have employees covered by LEMSC, AHPA and FOP compromised with the Governor’s office on an amendment that kept the original 2012 language in the bill, as it relates to a final review by the agency head. At the same time, Director Milstead, who did not oppose the original language in our bill, agreed to institute a department policy via a Director’s Management Regulation that simply states the agency will accept final decision by LEMSC.
While this policy can be changed by future Directors, we do have a commitment from Director Milstead on this issue and AHPA has time to address this in statute in the future. In short, this is certainly a positive for DPS employees.
This is another example of AHPA working with the legislature and management on behalf of its membership.
Previous AHPA Updates – 3/12/15 http://aztroopers.wpengine.com/news-issues/lemsc-update-31215