Civil Service Board’s reversal for Brown should have excluded others

The Monroe Fire and Police Civil Service Board will allow Reggie Brown to take the police chief’s test, but it also failed to take an action that will have a haunting effort for years to come.

During a special call meeting Tuesday, the board learned that Brown should not have been disqualified from taking chief’s test because he met all of the qualifications. They also learned that they approved several applicants to take the test who obviously came nowhere close to meeting the qualifications.

Brown showed that he met the requirement of having a college degree in criminal justice and having at least ten years experience. He also showed that while it was not necessary that he had more supervisory experience than most of the applicants, experience that had been delegated to him by various chief’s of police although he didn’t have classified title.

Brown was represented by the all-female firm of Pleasant, Williams, and Banks-Miley, who showed the board a list of applicants that were not eligible according to board’s rules, but were allowed to test for the Chief’s position. They listed individual applicants, reading from the applications to show how some had no supervisory experience and no college degree but were still approved, breaking the rules.

 

Kirsten Pleasant, said there should not have been one set of rules for Brown and another set for other applicants.

Once shown their error with respect to Brown, the board backtracked and corrected itself. However, they took no action to disqualify several applicants that had serious eligibility deficiencies.

By allowing ineligible persons to apply, even one time, the board opens the gate for future challenges because every denied applicant in the future will point to this 2017 decision as a precedent.

At the hearing, it was noted that one Applicant spent 13 years with the Monroe Police Department, all as a patrolman with no supervisory experience in the department. While he had the years of experience he lacked either a degree in criminal justice or supervisory experience, but was still found eligible.

In the future, others who want to contest an eligibility ruling will point to this approval as precedent.

Brown’s attorneys also pointed to another applicant who has a degree but has only served as a lieutenant for less than a year. Allowing him to apply with less than a year as a Lieutenant, sets a precedent.

Board Chairman Hardeman Cordell raised questions about disciplinary actions attempted against Brown in 2015 in which he was accused of padding the payroll as a Metro Narcotics team member. The MPD investigated the complaint and found no cause of action. That sparked a testy exchange between Brown and Cordell which Brown said showed their bias.

Brown’s attorneys noted that former police chief Ron Schleuter was allowed to apply, but he had a disciplinary action (secretly recording conversations with officers and the mayor, even in the bathroom) that resulted in his firing. By allowing Schleuter to apply, the board set a precedent that persons found guilty of serious disciplinary breaches are eligible to apply.

Benjamin Baw the police union representative on the board presented information to the board that suggested that Brown lied on his application about his supervisory experience and could face criminal prosecution for doing so. Baw said he was asked by some unnamed police officers to tell the board that Brown has never held a classified title of supervisor, but he noted on his application that he had supervisory experience in several areas.

Brown’s attorneys noted that the qualifications did not specify that an applicant must have a classified title, but that they should have supervisory experience. Both Brown and his attorneys pointed out that over 17 years Brown has been lawfully delegated responsibility by the Chief of Police to command and supervise many areas; an assertion that was uncontested at Tuesdays meeting.

Baw is Brown’s representative on the civil service board. When the police union representative raises the unsubstantiated possibility of fraud against applicant and has it read into the public record, that is precedent setting. Although Baw said he only brought the information at the request of some officers, the unfounded accusation by anonymous officers was allowed to be placed into the public record.

It was noted that another applicant said that his supervisory experience involved his work at the police academy, but it was not a classified title. Even though his supervisory experience was the same type as Brown his assertion was not considered an instance of fraud. 

As Brown’s attorneys piled on example after example, it became clear that either the board never reviewed the applications in detail or they did not care. Either way, one eligible applicant, Corporal Brown, was excluded and several ineligible applicants were approved to take the test.

While the board tried to set the record straight for Brown, it did not take any action to erase the perception that it is running a good old boys club that overlooks the flaws of friends and focuses on the perceived flaws of enemies.

If the board is about universal fair play, then any applicant that does not meet the eligibility standard should be removed from the eligibility list. That didn’t happen.

 It took the civil service board thirty minutes and ten seconds to undo its actions relating to Brown. However, if other ineligible applicants are allowed to take the chief’s test, it will set a precedent that will haunt the application process for decades to come.

 

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