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City of Shreveport v. Shreveport Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 16, 2019

CITY OF SHREVEPORT Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
SHREVEPORT MUNICIPAL FIRE AND POLICE CIVIL SERVICE BOARD Defendant-Appellee

          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 597, 250 Honorable Craig Owen Marcotte, Judge

          PETTIETTE, ARMAND, DUNKELMAN, WOODLEY, BYRD & CROMWELL, L.L.P. By: Joseph S. Woodley Counsel for Appellant

          BILLY R. CASEY Counsel for Appellee, Shreveport Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board

          BREEDLOVE LAW FIRM By: Pamela N. Breedlove Counsel for Respondent, Mark Wheeler

          Before PITMAN, COX, and STEPHENS, JJ.

          COX, J.

         The City of Shreveport ("City") appealed a decision by the Shreveport Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board ("Board") to the First Judicial District Court, Caddo Parish, Louisiana. The district court upheld the Board's decision. The City now appeals the district court's decision. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS

         Lt. Mark Wheeler has been with the Shreveport Police Department ("SPD") for over 25 years. In September of 2015, Lt. Wheeler had to have surgery on his feet, requiring him to take sick leave. He expected to be back to work in six weeks, but complications from the surgery occurred. He was out on leave until March 30, 2016. In March of 2016, Lt. Wheeler had been medically cleared to return to work and qualified with his firearm. He was assigned to work in the property room. There were no issues or problems with his sick leave.

         The issue arose in regard to Lt. Wheeler's annual P.O.S.T. training.[1] P.O.S.T. certification is required to be completed every 13 months. It is SPD policy that officers complete their annual training during their birth month, which is November for Lt. Wheeler. Lt. Wheeler needed to complete his P.O.S.T. training in November of 2015, but he was on extended sick leave. SPD policy does not allow an officer to attend training while on sick leave. While on sick leave, officers are limited to the following activities, according to the policy manual:

Unless granted special consideration, members on sick leave shall remain at their residence for the entire sick leave period except to participate in such activities as voting, religious activities, obtaining medication, [medical care], rehabilitative or therapeutic exercise, other therapeutic activities, obtaining food or meal.

         In February of 2016, Lt. Wheeler received a letter from human resources stating he had not completed his annual P.O.S.T. training and he had until March 31, 2016, to complete the training. The letter also gave the option of completing a P.O.S.T. waiver instead of the training. The P.O.S.T. waiver was created by the P.O.S.T. Council. The Chief of Police is required to sign the waiver before it is submitted. SPD does not have any written regulations or policies regarding the signing of P.O.S.T. waivers for officers.

         Lt. Wheeler submitted his P.O.S.T. certification waiver to Chief Shaw. Chief Shaw did not sign the waiver, and his reasons for not signing are not known. By not signing the waiver, Lt. Wheeler's P.O.S.T. certification was revoked because he could not get his re-trainer by March 31, 2016. When his certification was revoked, the State portion of his pay was suspended. Lt. Wheeler requested that Chief Crump sign the waiver, but he also refused. Because of his inability to attend P.O.S.T. training and lack of a waiver, Lt. Wheeler's P.O.S.T. certification was revoked by the P.O.S.T. council, effective May 12, 2016.

         Lt. Wheeler initially took the issue of the Chief not signing the waiver to the First Judicial District Court by filing a petition for mandamus to order the Chief to sign the waiver. The district court said it would not order the Chief to sign ...


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