1998 Regular Session
To: Local and Private Legislation
By: Representative Compretta
House Bill 1809
(As Passed the House)
AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 802, LOCAL AND PRIVATE LAWS OF 1990, TO ALLOW ANY PERSON HOLDING ANY OFFICE OR POSITION IN THE HANCOCK COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT TO ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN POLITICAL ACTIVITY IN ANY PRIMARY OR ELECTION IN HANCOCK COUNTY, AS LONG AS THE PERSON IS NOT ON DUTY, IN A UNIFORM OR IN A COUNTY-OWNED VEHICLE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Chapter 802, Local and Private Laws of 1990, is amended as follows:
Section 1. The Board of Supervisors of Hancock County is authorized to create by ordinance a civil service commission for the Hancock County Sheriff's Department.
Section 2. (1) The members of the civil service commission shall be appointed by the Sheriff of Hancock County, with a majority of the Board of Supervisors of Hancock County voting therefor; shall be three (3) in number; and shall be paid a sum not to exceed One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per month to compensate them for their services. No person shall be appointed a member of such commission who is not a citizen of the United States and Hancock County, and who has not lived in Hancock County for at least five (5) years immediately preceding such appointment. Terms of office for such members shall be for six (6) years, except that the first three (3) members shall be appointed for staggered terms as follows: One (1) shall serve a period of two (2) years, one (1) shall serve a period of four (4) years and one (1) shall serve a period of six (6) years.
(2) Any member of the commission may be removed from office for incompetency, incompatability, dereliction of duty, or other good cause, by the Board of Supervisors of Hancock County. However, no member shall be removed until charges have been preferred in writing and a full hearing had before the board of supervisors. Any member being so removed shall have the right of appeal to the circuit court any time within thirty (30) days thereafter, and may demand a jury trial. Such trial shall be confined to the determination of whether the order of removal made by the board of supervisors was or was not made in good faith and for cause.
(3) Two (2) members shall constitute a quorum and the votes of any two (2) members shall constitute a majority and be sufficient for the decision of all matters and transactions.
Section 3. (1) Immediately after the appointment of the civil service commission, the commission shall organize by electing one (1) of its members chairman. The commission shall hold regular meetings at least once each month, and such additional meetings as may be required for the proper discharge of its duties.
(2) The commission shall appoint a secretary and a board of examiners, which board shall consist of the sheriff and two (2) members appointed by the commission, all of whom shall serve without compensation. The secretary shall keep the records and preserve all reports made to the commission, and also a record of all examinations held under the direction of the board of examiners, and perform such other duties as the commission may prescribe. The members of the board and the secretary are subject to suspension and discharge in the same manner as the commissioners.
Section 4. It shall be the duty of the civil service commission to make suitable rules and regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this act. Such rules and regulations shall provide in detail the manner of conducting examinations, appointments, promotions, transfers, reinstatements, demotions, suspensions and discharges, and may also provide for any other matter connected with the general subject of personnel administration which may be considered desirable to further carry out the general purposes of this act. It shall have the power to conduct investigations, and make reports on all matters touching the enforcement and effect of the provisions of this act and the rules and regulations prescribed hereunder. The commission shall have the power to investigate all complaints, which must be reduced to writing, and to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths and conduct hearings.
Section 5. The Board of Supervisors of Hancock County shall provide the commission with suitable and convenient rooms and accommodations, and shall cause the same to be furnished, heated and lighted and supplied with all office supplies and equipment necessary to carry on the business of the commission, and shall provide such clerical assistance as may be necessary, all of which is to be commensurate with the number of persons in the Hancock County Sheriff's Department coming within the purview of this act. The failure upon the part of the board of supervisors to do so shall be considered a violation of this section and shall be punishable as such.
Section 6. The provisions of this act shall include all full-time paid employees of the Hancock County Sheriff's Department except the sheriff and chief deputy. All appointments to and promotions in the sheriff's department shall be made solely on merit, efficiency and fitness, which may be ascertained by open competitive examination and impartial investigation. No person shall be reinstated in, or transferred, suspended, or discharged from any place, position or employment contrary to the provisions of this act. All incumbents and future appointees shall be subject to civil service.
Section 7. Any applicant for any position in the Hancock County Sheriff's Department which is under civil service must be a citizen of the United States and an elector of Hancock County, and must meet only such bona fide occupational residency requirements as may be determined by the civil service commission.
Section 8. For the benefit of the public service and to prevent delay, injury or interruption therein by reason of the enactment of this act, all persons holding a position in the Hancock County Sheriff's Department, except the sheriff and chief deputy, who have served continuously in such positions for a period of at least the preceding six (6) months are eligible for permanent appointment under civil service to the offices, positions or employments which they then hold, respectively, without examination or other act on their part, and not on probation, and every such person is automatically adopted and inducted permanently into civil service, into such office, place, position or employment which such person then holds as completely and effectually to all intents and purposes as if such person had been permanently appointed thereto under civil service after examination and investigation. However, those persons who have previously left their positions to participate in the Armed Forces of the United States shall have preference in reemployment and enjoy the rights and privileges of this act as if their services had not been terminated.
Section 9. The civil service commission shall keep a list of all members of the Hancock County Sheriff's Department, and formulate methods of determining the relative qualifications of persons seeking employment in the sheriff's department, and give preference to those having the best qualifications. The commission shall provide that persons laid off because of curtailment of expenditures, reduction in force, and like causes, shall be the last persons, including probationers, that have been appointed to the sheriff's department, until such reductions necessary shall have been accomplished. However, if the sheriff's department again is increased in number, those suspended shall be reinstated before any new appointments shall be made.
Section 10. The tenure of everyone holding an office, place, position or employment under the provisions of this act shall be only during good behavior. Any such person may be removed or discharged, suspended without pay, demoted or reduced in rank, or deprived of vacation privileges or other special privileges, or any combination thereof, for any of the following reasons:
Incompetency, inefficiency, or inattention of duty; dishonesty, intemperance, immoral conduct, insubordination, discourteous treatment of the public or a fellow employee, or any other act of omission or commission tending to injure the public service.
Section 11. No person who has been permanently appointed or inducted into civil service under the provisions of this act, except for such persons as may be employed to fill a vacancy caused by the absence of an employee of the sheriff's department while in service as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, shall be removed, suspended, demoted or discharged, or any combination thereof, except for cause, and only upon the written accusation of the sheriff or any citizen or taxpayer, a written statement of which accusation, in general terms, shall be served upon the accused, and a duplicate filed with the commission.
In the absence of extraordinary circumstances or situations, before any such employee may be removed or discharged, he shall be given written notice of the intended termination, which notice shall state the reasons for termination and inform the employee that he has the right to respond in writing to the reasons given for termination within a reasonable time and respond orally before the sheriff. The sheriff may, in his discretion, provide for a pretermination hearing and examination of witnesses, and if a hearing is to be held, the notice to the employee shall also set the time and place of such hearing. A duplicate of such notice shall be filed with the commission. After the employee has responded or has failed to respond within a reasonable time, the sheriff shall determine the appropriate disciplinary action, and shall notify the employee of his decision in writing at the earliest practicable date.
Where there are extraordinary circumstances or situations which require the immediate discharge or removal of an employee, such employee may be terminated without a pretermination hearing as required by this section, but such employee shall be given written notice of the specific reasons for termination within twenty-four (24) hours after the termination, and shall be given an opportunity for a hearing similar to the pretermination hearing provided in this section within twenty (20) days after the date of termination. For the purposes of this section, extraordinary situations or circumstances include, but are not limited to, circumstances where retention of the employee would result in damage to property of the county or the sheriff's department, would be detrimental to the interest of the county government or the sheriff's department, or would result in injury to the employee, to a fellow employee or to the general public.
Any person so removed, suspended, demoted, discharged or combination thereof may, within ten (10) days from the time of such disciplinary action, file with the commission a written demand for an investigation, whereupon the commission shall conduct such investigation. The investigation shall be confined to the determination of the question of whether such disciplinary action was or was not made for political or religious reasons and was or was not made in good faith for cause. After such investigation the commission may, if in its estimation the evidence is conclusive, affirm the disciplinary action, or if it shall find that the disciplinary action was made for political or religious reasons, or was not made in good faith for cause, shall order the immediate reinstatement or reemployment of such person in the office, place, position, or employment from which such person was removed, suspended, demoted, discharged or combination thereof, which reinstatement shall, if the commission so provides in its discretion, be retroactive, and entitle such person to pay or compensation from the time of such disciplinary action. The commission upon such investigation may, in lieu of affirming the disciplinary action, modify the order of removal, suspension, demotion, discharge or combination thereof by directing a suspension without pay for a given period and subsequent restoration of duty, or by directing a demotion in classification, grade or pay, or by any combination thereof. The findings of the commission shall be certified in writing to the sheriff, and shall be forthwith enforced by the sheriff.
All investigations made by the commission pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be by public hearing, after reasonable written notice to the accused of the time and place of such hearing, at which hearing the accused shall be afforded an opportunity of appearing in person and by counsel, and presenting his defense. The findings of the commission shall be conclusive and binding unless either the accused or the sheriff, within thirty (30) days from the date of the entry of such judgment or order on the minutes of the commission and notification to the accused and the sheriff, appeals to the Circuit Court of Hancock County. Any appeal of the judgment or order of the commission shall not act as a supersedeas of such judgment or order, but the judgment or order shall remain in effect pending a final determination of the matter on appeal. Such appeal shall be taken by serving the commission and the appellee, within thirty (30) days after the entry of such judgment or order, a written notice of appeal stating the grounds thereof, and demanding that a certified transcript of the record and of all papers on file in the office of the commission affecting or relating to such judgment or order be filed by the commission with such court. The commission shall, within thirty (30) days after the filing of such notice, make, certify and file such transcript with such court. The circuit court shall thereupon proceed to hear and determine such appeal. However, such hearing shall be confined to the determination of whether the judgment or order of removal, discharge, demotion, suspension or combination thereof made by the commission was or was not made in good faith for cause, and no appeal to such court shall be taken except upon such ground or grounds.
Section 12. The fixing of the rate of compensation of every employee in the Hancock County Sheriff's Department shall remain vested with the Sheriff of Hancock County, and nothing contained in this act shall infringe upon the power and authority of the sheriff to so fix the rate of compensation.
Section 13. No person holding any office, place, position or employment in the Hancock County Sheriff's Department which is subject to civil service is under any obligation to contribute to any political fund or to render any political service to any person or party whatsoever, and no person shall be removed, reduced in grade or salary, or otherwise prejudiced for refusing so to do. No public officer, whether elected or appointed, shall discharge, promote, demote or in any manner change the official rank, employment or compensation of any person in the sheriff's department under civil service, or promise or threaten so to do, for giving or withholding or neglecting to make any contribution of money or service or any other valuable thing for any political purpose.
If any person holding any office, place, position or employment in the sheriff's department which is subject to civil service actively participates in political activity in any primary or election in Hancock County while on duty, or in a uniform or in a county-owned vehicle, it shall be deemed cause for removal.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.