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  • Discrimination or Proper Action?

    Without getting into my buddys details, here is the meat of the question:

    John Q Officer is on duty with 4 years clean service as LEO behind him and no current issues, problems or IA complaints and is well liked. While on duty John Q gets phone call and is advised his wife and child were killed in auto accident a short time ago. John Q over the next 5 days progresses to a emotional and mental break, resigns his LEO job of his own choice and in a moment of bad decision gets heavily intoxicated in a motel room attempting to cope (wrong way, but i wasn't going through what he was). Before passing out from intoxication a phone conversation occurs between John Q and a family member, the family member is alarmed over John Q's state of mind and intoxication level (not a drinker) and calls law enforcement in the jurisdiction he is located in advising concerns that John Q will harm himself and erroneously tells the agency John Q was fired from his job due to solely to the events of the prior 5 days.

    John Q is contacted by LEO's who transport him to hospital due to intoxication level and subsequently baker act John Q. - John Q is held for evaluation at mental health facility for approx. 36 hours and sent home - incident is categorized by medical staff as combination of acute depression and trauma coupled with heavy alcohol consumption and is not considered to meet the qualifications for involuntary commitment but by recommendation to find a support resource to talk to until the deaths of wife and child can be worked through.

    4 years pass, John Q has long since recovered and has maintained a clean life with no criminal or ethical problems, found other employment that he performed well at but was unhappy in. John Q decides to return to his LEO career which he loved and misses. Agency refused to hire him in spite of him being more than qualified and with the endorsement of local community leaders saying to him "what happens if some other event occurs and you can't handle it, then what? not willing to take the risk to citizens you would need to serve."

    Now I know my friend very well and he was a excellent cop, if he was in a position to move I'd tell him to just go elsewhere but its not an option. My feelings on this though is that what he experienced is neither alarming or unreasonable under the circumstances and further, the position of the municipality seems to smack in the face of "perceived disability" protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Does the events above give rise to feeling my buddy should be denied LEO employment or treated differently considering the trigger of the event as well as its lack of recurrence?

    Because he is a close friend maybe I'm biased in his favor but I think I am looking at it objectively and that the agency he applied to is legally and ethically wrong, any input from the brotherhood?

  • #2
    First off, my sympathy goes out to your friend. I'm pretty sure most of us would have an emotional break down if the same thing happened to us, I know I would. That being said, I think your buddy may have a case if the sole reason they are not hiring him is because of this lapse of judgement when dealing with the death of his immediate family. I think the real question is going to be if it can be proven that is the sole reason he isnt getting hired. When push comes to shove they may say others were more qualified or he didnt answer all the interview questions properly. I would say if he passed a psych test that would help his case also. Just my two cents.
    ICE SA

    Test: July 2009
    NOR: Sept 2009
    Interview: Nov 2009
    NOR: Dec 30, 2010
    TO: Jan 3, 2011
    Medical: Jan 14, 2011
    Drug Screen: Jan 26, 2011
    Cleared all Pre-Employment Checks Feb 23, 2011
    Met with BI: March 9, 2011
    BI Complete: April 26, 2011

    Comment


    • #3
      Your post isn't too clear so I have to ask, did they specifically tell him this incident was the basis for their refusal to rehire him or are you just assuming it is?

      In my state, once you've been gone for three years you POST certificate is no longer valid and you have to be sent back to the academy for retraining. If a department has a choice between hiring someone who is already POST certified and one who needs training, then as a cost factor alone your friend goes to the bottom of the list.

      However, if there is a question as to your friend's emotional stability, its a good bet he failed the psych exam. This would have been a decision made by a psychologist or psychiatrist (and not department management) based on the results of job related and very EEOC valid tests that determine whether an applicant is free from any emotional or mental condition that might adversely affect the exercise of the powers of a peace officer and to otherwise ensure that the candidate is capable of withstanding the psychological demands of the position. This is a minimum requirement for the job in just about every state. A lot of people fail the psych and of those that pass, a number of cops later go out on psych disability retirements.
      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

      Comment


      • #4
        He was certified in Florida and has about 3 months till certification expires unless re-employed by an agency. As it turns out he went to an independent psychologist for evaluation after the agency told him that the baker act was the sole reason for the passover, both other applicants to the open position were either green from the academy or had some background baggage (drug use and 3 misdemeanor criminal convictions.)- The psychologist handles the psych screening for the county sheriffs office and gave him a two page letter clearing his psych eval, they also put him through the MMPI 2 - and he scored in the range considered desirable for law enforcement. - I personally know his background before and after the event and he was well respected on the force when the event happened. It just seems to me that in all my personal years in law enforcement if there was a time that a baker act did not raise red flags for me in an officer this would be one. It bothers me that he's still having to suffer from an event that would shake a lot of people to there core and the agency simply refuses to see him as anything other than a liability because of that event. I spoke to him earlier and it turns out that he applied to a second agency that was on course to hire him until they spoke to the first agency and things changed. - Anyways I'll continue trying to help him work through it but still seems to me the agency is not within there lawful rights on this one.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Deadeye1 View Post
          He was certified in Florida and has about 3 months till certification expires unless re-employed by an agency. As it turns out he went to an independent psychologist for evaluation after the agency told him that the baker act was the sole reason for the passover, both other applicants to the open position were either green from the academy or had some background baggage (drug use and 3 misdemeanor criminal convictions.)- The psychologist handles the psych screening for the county sheriffs office and gave him a two page letter clearing his psych eval, they also put him through the MMPI 2 - and he scored in the range considered desirable for law enforcement. - I personally know his background before and after the event and he was well respected on the force when the event happened. It just seems to me that in all my personal years in law enforcement if there was a time that a baker act did not raise red flags for me in an officer this would be one. It bothers me that he's still having to suffer from an event that would shake a lot of people to there core and the agency simply refuses to see him as anything other than a liability because of that event. I spoke to him earlier and it turns out that he applied to a second agency that was on course to hire him until they spoke to the first agency and things changed. - Anyways I'll continue trying to help him work through it but still seems to me the agency is not within there lawful rights on this one.
          What is this Baker Act that you speak of? Based on what you are telling us I think he MAY have a chance at a lawsuit. Sounds like he is being discriminated against in my opinion. That specific agency must be hard up if they are considering hiring people with past drug use and 3 misdeamenor convictions. I wish your friend well, sounds like he has a good support system in you. Just this week we had an officer's lose his 4 month old son, he died at daycare, he is not doing well mentally either. Can you really blame him (or your friend).
          ICE SA

          Test: July 2009
          NOR: Sept 2009
          Interview: Nov 2009
          NOR: Dec 30, 2010
          TO: Jan 3, 2011
          Medical: Jan 14, 2011
          Drug Screen: Jan 26, 2011
          Cleared all Pre-Employment Checks Feb 23, 2011
          Met with BI: March 9, 2011
          BI Complete: April 26, 2011

          Comment


          • #6
            He should not have been Baker Acted in the first place. The Baker Act, in Florida, does not apply when someone is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. It seems like the hospital realized that, and eventually released him. Why can't he move to a different area? Sounds like he needs a fresh start anyway; a change of scenery would probably do him good. Also, have him check with FDLE, he can go beyond the 4 years in separation from service as long as he completes a refresher course in the high liability areas (DV, Juvenile sex offenders, use of force, etc.).

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Johnnylawman38 View Post
              What is this Baker Act that you speak of?
              The Baker Act is a law in Florida that allows Law Enforcement Officers to committ people that pose a risk of harm to themselves or others. i.e. Someone calls police, and says they are thinking about killing themselves. Police arrive, "Baker Act" the person, and transport them to the closest receiving facility (hospital) for a mental evaluation. The person is supposed to be held for observation for no less than 72 hours.

              Comment


              • #8
                Is applying at his original agency or new ones?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Deadeye1 View Post
                  He was certified in Florida and has about 3 months till certification expires unless re-employed by an agency. As it turns out he went to an independent psychologist for evaluation after the agency told him that the baker act was the sole reason for the passover, both other applicants to the open position were either green from the academy or had some background baggage (drug use and 3 misdemeanor criminal convictions.)- The psychologist handles the psych screening for the county sheriffs office and gave him a two page letter clearing his psych eval, they also put him through the MMPI 2 - and he scored in the range considered desirable for law enforcement. - I personally know his background before and after the event and he was well respected on the force when the event happened. It just seems to me that in all my personal years in law enforcement if there was a time that a baker act did not raise red flags for me in an officer this would be one. It bothers me that he's still having to suffer from an event that would shake a lot of people to there core and the agency simply refuses to see him as anything other than a liability because of that event. I spoke to him earlier and it turns out that he applied to a second agency that was on course to hire him until they spoke to the first agency and things changed. - Anyways I'll continue trying to help him work through it but still seems to me the agency is not within there lawful rights on this one.
                  I am not familiar with Florida law, but your Baker Act comment rang a bell. In my state, someone who is placed on a 5150 hold (our equivalent of the Baker Act) is prohibited by law from possessing firearms for five years after the incident occurred. If your state's law has a similar prohibition, then that is the disqualifier.

                  Your and any one else's opinion that he never should have been detained under the Baker act would be irrelevant if your law has this firearms prohibition. As long as he spent those 36 hours in custody, the prohibition would be in place as a matter of law and he would be an automatic DQ as he now lacks the minimum qualifications for the position (the ability to possess and carry a firearm).
                  Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    ^ That does not apply in FL

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jk4963ncj View Post
                      ^ That does not apply in FL
                      Check 18 USC 922. I believe you will find the firearms prohibition there. It is national and not just confined to one state.
                      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Local Law Enforcement Officers do not enforce federal laws; it is not within their jurisdiction. Just like Federal LEO's don't enforce state laws, or write traffic tickets. The law in your state (5150) is not recognized in Florida. Here is an excerpt from the then Attorney General in FLORIDA:

                        In addition, section 790.08, Florida Statutes, provides authority for law enforcement officers to take possession of weapons and firearms found upon persons arrested for various crimes. Again, each of these statutes requires the individual to be charged with a criminal offense and, as the Baker Act makes clear, Baker Act proceedings are not criminal proceedings.[10]

                        In sum, it is my opinion that in the absence of an arrest and criminal charge against the person sent for evaluation under Florida's Baker Act, the Sheriff of Bay County may not retain firearms confiscated from such persons and retained by that office. You may wish to suggest to your local legislative delegation that this issue is problematical for local law enforcement and work with them to craft amendatory legislation to address these matters.

                        Sincerely,

                        Bill McCollum
                        Attorney General

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jk4963ncj View Post
                          Local Law Enforcement Officers do not enforce federal laws; it is not within their jurisdiction.
                          I bring cases to federal court all the time and I'm a local LEO.

                          As to the OP, most agencies will be reluctant to hire someone back who has previously resigned, even under tragic circumstances.
                          Originally posted by kontemplerande
                          Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jk4963ncj View Post
                            Local Law Enforcement Officers do not enforce federal laws; it is not within their jurisdiction. Just like Federal LEO's don't enforce state laws, or write traffic tickets. The law in your state (5150) is not recognized in Florida. Here is an excerpt from the then Attorney General in FLORIDA:

                            In addition, section 790.08, Florida Statutes, provides authority for law enforcement officers to take possession of weapons and firearms found upon persons arrested for various crimes. Again, each of these statutes requires the individual to be charged with a criminal offense and, as the Baker Act makes clear, Baker Act proceedings are not criminal proceedings.[10]

                            In sum, it is my opinion that in the absence of an arrest and criminal charge against the person sent for evaluation under Florida's Baker Act, the Sheriff of Bay County may not retain firearms confiscated from such persons and retained by that office. You may wish to suggest to your local legislative delegation that this issue is problematical for local law enforcement and work with them to craft amendatory legislation to address these matters.

                            Sincerely,

                            Bill McCollum
                            Attorney General
                            Goodness, we certainly are touchy today.

                            You're right, California law does not apply in Florida That's why I carefully qualified my earlier post and said, If your state's law has a similar prohibition, then that is the disqualifier. I'm not sure why you chose to ignore that qualifying statement.

                            If you re-read the AG's opinion you quoted, you will see it deals with applicability of state law under the Baker act, but not Federal law.

                            While local agencies may or may not enforce Federal law, they are still required to obey it. The Federal law I quoted prohibits someone who had been committed to a mental facility (as you state your friend was for 36 hours) from possessing a firearm. This no longer makes it an issue of discrimination but instead, a lack of valid, job related qualifications.

                            You posed the issue, sought input and got some. I can't help the fact that you didn't like the response you received.

                            But of greater importance here is that arguing back and forth here solves nothing. Neither you nor I are empowered to settle this matter. Your friend needs to appeal his disqualification to the city's civil service commission or in court. They are the only persons who can remedy this dispute. He also needs to do so in a timely manner, as there is usually a short time limit within which to file an appeal. Once that limit passes he will be out of luck.
                            Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm not the OP. I was simply explaining Florida's Baker Act.

                              Comment

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