2004 Regular Session
To: Municipalities; Judiciary, Division B
By: Senator(s) Tollison, Doxey
AN ACT TO REQUIRE MUNICIPALITIES TO PROVIDE A PRE-DISCIPLINARY HEARING PRIOR TO THE SUSPENSION OR TERMINATION OF ANY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER; ESTABLISH A MINIMUM LEVEL OF WRITTEN DUE PROCESS PROCEDURES; TO SPECIFY WHAT NOTICE SHALL BE PROVIDED TO THE OFFICER; TO PROVIDE THAT THE OFFICER MAY ATTEND THE HEARING, MAY BE REPRESENTED BY COUNSEL, MAY PRESENT EVIDENCE ON HIS OWN BEHALF, QUESTION WITNESSES AGAINST HIM, AND MAY REQUEST THAT THE EVIDENTIARY PHASE OF THE HEARING BE HELD IN EXECUTIVE SESSION; TO PROVIDE THAT FINAL ADJUDICATION SHALL BE HELD IN OPEN MEETING; TO PROVIDE THAT A MUNICIPALITY MAY ENACT PROCEDURES THAT PROVIDE GREATER PROTECTIONS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS THAN THE MINIMUM REQUIRED BY THE ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act shall be known and cited as the "Law Enforcement Employment Procedures Act of 2004."
It is the intent of the Legislature to provide a fair and impartial hearing to law enforcement officers employed by municipalities prior to the disciplinary suspension or termination of those officers.
SECTION 2. (1) A municipality shall provide by ordinance or policy a pre-disciplinary hearing prior to the suspension or termination of a law enforcement officer employed by the municipality.
(2) Nothing in this act shall be construed to prohibit a municipality from placing a law enforcement officer on leave with pay until the entity charged with the responsibility of conducting the hearing has rendered a decision in the matter.
SECTION 3. A municipality shall establish written due process procedures applicable to the pre-disciplinary hearing. At a minimum, this due process shall consists of:
(a) Written notice to the officer of the reason or reasons for the termination or suspension. This notice shall be issued by the person or persons with authority to suspend or terminate the law enforcement officer. The notice shall also inform the officer that the officer, within five (5) days, may request a hearing in writing and where such written request should be filed. If the officer fails to request a hearing within five (5) days after receiving written notice of the suspension or termination, the right to such hearing shall be deemed waived.
(b) The accused officer shall have the right to appear at the hearing and to be represented at the officer's own expense. The officer or representative shall have the right to address any charges against the officer. If the officer has a representative, the officer may also be present at the hearing.
(c) The officer or the officer's representative shall have the right to present evidence and question witnesses who testify in the proceeding.
SECTION 4. A municipality may also hold a separate post-disciplinary hearing on the suspension or termination of the law enforcement officer. If the municipality holds a separate post-disciplinary hearing, the officer or officer's representative may present evidence and question witnesses.
SECTION 5. The hearing shall be conducted by an impartial hearing officer or body. If the hearing is before the municipal governing body, the hearing may be conducted in an executive session at the officer's election, provided that final adjudication shall occur in an open session.
SECTION 6. Nothing contained in this act shall prohibit a municipality from enacting an ordinance or adopting procedures which exceed the requirements of this act.
SECTION 7. The rules of evidence and rules of discovery shall not apply to hearings held pursuant to this act.
SECTION 8. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2004.