SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Within the past three years, half of the Shreveport police officers who were fired got their jobs back.
One officer even was fired twice, only to be reinstated both times.
When a police officer is disciplined or fired in Shreveport, state law allows them to appeal to the civil service board.
That panel has the power to reinstate officers.
"The Civil Service Board was created for a reason," said the board's chairman, Michael Carter. "It was created to protect those who protect us.
"They deserve to have their case heard. They deserve to have procedural due process because they are taking risks that normal employees at normal jobs don't take."
Through a public records request to the city of Shreveport, a KSLA News 12 investigation found that the Shreveport Police Department fired officers 18 times since 2014. Those include two officers who twice were kicked off the force.
Several of the officers were terminated after being arrested and charged with a crime.
Half of those who were fired got their jobs back after appealing to the civil service board.
"Those officers I terminated, I believe I was justified doing those things. So I rest on the decisions that I made," Police Chief Alan Crump said.
"Those individuals that are on the civil service panel have to answer for why they make the decisions they make."
According to the civil service board, many times it is because of the Police Department that officers are reinstated.
"It comes back to the administrator and comes back to those in charge," Carter said.
Through a public records request to the civil service board, KSLA News 12 received a document showing the outcomes of all appeals since 2014.
- Civil service board members overturned three terminations because they felt the individual was wrongfully fired.
- Three officers were reinstated because the board ruled the city made an error procedurally in firing the officer.
- The city rescinded three terminations themselves and instead issued a fine or suspension.
"People often have the misinterpretation of what a civil service board is," said Carter. "They think it is a board that just gives people their jobs back."
Board members look at two things when they review appeals from terminated officers, Carter said.
- Procedural justice: Did the administration follow all rules and laws known as a "bill of rights" when it came time to fire the employee?
- Merits of the case: What actually happened that led to the officer being terminated?
"But you do not get to that point if you procedurally violate the rights that are afforded by law," said Carter.
If the Police Department violates the officer's bill of rights, he explained, the board doesn't even get to look at the merits of the case of what actually happened that led to the termination.
That's a situation that arose three times in the past three years.
The two officers who were fired twice, both got their jobs back because the board ruled their bill of rights were violated.
"It is not too much to ask of any administrator," Carter said. "We certainly pay them enough. And we certainly have enough staff at their disposal to make sure that rights are followed."
When asked why it appears proper procedures are not being followed when firing officers to ensure their rights are not being violated, Crump said he follows policy.
"Since I've been the chief, I've made decisions based on policy, based upon procedure and based upon the authority that I have in this position to do what is best for this department."
Crump said he doesn't always agree with the board's decisions.
"Maybe the final answer may rest with you, but that don't make you right just because your opinion is different from mine."
Carter said the board's decisions have to be more than opinion.
"It has to be more than politics. That's what civil service serves to eliminate, the political emotional decisions made by administrators."
Board members review all paperwork and hear testimony when a full investigative appeal comes before the panel, Carter said.
"What we do is we have a factual-based decision, where others are making their comments and decisions based on rumor."
KSLA News 12 also requested the numbers of officer terminations and reinstatements from 2010 to 2013.
In that time, 20 officers were fired. Of those, the civil service board reinstated only one.