THE NUMBERS ARE IN - SEE HOW YOUR COUNTY COMPARES TO OTHERS
As you may be aware, EdPDLaw was founded on the principle that everyone should be treated fairly and have an equal playing field in which to advance their careers. While the notion is simple in theory, it becomes more difficult in practice. Coming from dual careers, one as a police officer and a second one as a paralegal, EdPDLaw has a distinct advantage to see both sides of the coin. Unfortunately, I also see how Administrations manipulate the laws and use loopholes to do as they please to keep nepotism, politics and cronyism alive and well.
DISCIPLINE PRIOR TO PROMOTION:
One tactic frequently used when the Administration's candidate did not place high enough on the test is to jam up the top contenders with discipline, this can occur just prior to calling for the test, up until the time an appointment is made. They only need their candidate in the top three.
LETTING THE LIST RUN OUT:
Another frequent tactic is to just let the list run out when there is no one on the list they want to promote, or a second list has already been generated and they are trying to get to their candidate.
Knowing that they are required to post open positions, the Administration will frequently send their preferred candidate to training for the position before they post it. Then of course after they post the opening, they claim their candidate is the "most qualified" and obvious choice for the position.
CREATING NEW DETAILS WITHOUT POSTING OR TESTING:
This is a curious phenomenon that should be challenged by both Unions, because if no-one challenges it, they get away with it and will soon be calling it a "past practice".
DIVIDE AND CONQUER, TAIL CHASING:
In order to keep Unions from filing grievances or paying attention to important issues, Administrations frequently try to pit Union members against each other. The members become so busy fighting each other and chasing their tails, that they don't pay attention or notice what is really going on in their Departments. Union meetings are wasted bickering.
In an attempt to see how different Counties compare in the frequency of major discipline, EdPDLaw searched the Rutger's Law Library Administrative Agency Decisions. Keep in mind, that the library only reports the decisions, and not the number of Appeals that are filed with Civil Service. Also keep in mind that minor discipline is not appealed to Civil Service and many, many officers accept major discipline as long as it does not involve termination.
OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW DECISIONS AS REPORTED IN RUTGER'S LAW LIBRARY
(Only County Correction Officer Decisions, does not include Pending Appeals, Academy Appeals or Juvenile Detention Officer Appeals)
* Large amount of Academy Appeals not included in count
Major Discipline is defined as anything over 5 days. According to Civil Service all major Discipline is to be reported to Civil Service on a 31A which states right on the form:
Instructions for employer:
This notice must be served on a permanent employee or an employee serving a working test period in the career service against whom one of the following types of disciplinary action is contemplated:
(a) suspension or fine for more than five working days at any one time;
(b) suspension or fine for five working days or less where the aggregate number of days suspended or fined in any one calendar year is 15 working days or more;
(c) the last suspension or fine where an employee receives more than three suspensions or fines of five working days or less in a calendar year;
(d) disciplinary demotion from a title in which the employee has permanent status or received a regular appointment; (e) removal; or
(f) resignation not in good standing.
A copy of this notice must be sent to the Civil Service Commission. Subsequent to the hearing by the appointing authority, the employee and the Civil Service Commission must be served with the Final Notice of Disciplinary Action.
Many times officers receive a 31A which is never forwarded to Civil Service but later settled by way of Settlement Agreement which is also never forwarded to Civil Service. Administrations will permit officers who are suspended without pay to return to work if they accept the period of suspension as their punishment. It is a difficult decision for any officer, especially those who did nothing wrong. It is also a very lucrative, money saving tactic by the Administration. So what happens to that 6 months of payroll savings?
This may explain why the OAL numbers are so low. For example, in 2007, Hudson County reported to Director Aviles that they had Major Disciplinary Charges outstanding against 100 officers, 1/4 of their Department. Yet in 2006 and 2007, Civil Service is only showing a combined 18 decisions with it dropping off to 3 in 2008. So what happened to the Major Disciplinary Charges against the other 82 officers? How much money did they generate for the County and where did it go?
Minor Discipline is defined as 5 days or less. According to the discipline policy, fines are usually imposed prior to minor discipline. It is a good idea to make sure that your fine is only a fine and will not later be used against you as "minor discipline". An employee must agree that the fine is a discipline.
EdPDLaw recommends that the Unions obtain yearly Disciplinary Reports from their County Department to become completely informed on how their membership is being disciplined, how much money the Counties are saving with fines, suspensions and terminations and where those monies are going. Union Officials may want to negotiate having monies from fines and suspensions placed in a separate account for use by the membership for equipment.
Discipline is selective when one officer is charged and fired for doing something another officer does without repercussions. This favoritism, nepostism and cronyism is not isolated to discipline but occurs in choice of assignment, overtime and even leaves. Some members are made to take unpaid leave while others are given paid leave for almost an entire year (including Holiday pay and stipends) without justification.
These issues can be avoided by taking some simple steps:
1. Civil Service Testing;
2. Merit Based Promotions;
2. Posting Open Positions;
3. Training of Supervisors; and
4. Completing thorough investigations prior to making disciplinary recommendations.