UPDATE, "Order" doc corrected:
View Original lawsuit and Federal Judge Max Cogburn's Order (correct)
View Original lawsuit and Federal Judge Max Cogburn's Order (correct)
VICTORY FOR SERGEANT TAMMY HATLEY OVER CMPD PRACTICES
WSOC-TV reportedtonight that Federal Judge Max Cogburn ruled in favor of CMPD Sgt. Tammy Hatley in the lawsuit she filed against the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department:
The ruling is a victory for Sgt. Tammy Hatley, who sued the department after she lost that position in 2010.
Hatley was one of 39 sergeants who became Response Area Commanders in 2008 and given the extra pay and take-home car in exchange for being on call 24 hours a day for problems in their own districts.
The department said the change was just a "reassignment" and was always meant to be temporary.
But Hatley argued it was a promotion and that she was demoted when she was bumped back to regular sergeant. The judge ruled that Hatley was in fact demoted, and since she did not have a chance to contest the demotion before the Civil Service Board, she is entitled to damages.
WSOC reported the judge’s ruling that “the undisputed evidence… clearly shows (Hatley) was promoted…” and CMPD’s handling of her reduction to Sergeant “did not meet the requirements of … due process…”
Judge Cogburn determined she is entitled to damages and is “… leaving to the jury a determination of damages.”
In 2008, Chief Rodney Monroe created RAC Sergeants (Response Area Command Sergeants) with 24-hour response required in exchange for a 7% pay increase and a take-home CMPD car. At the February 9, 2009 City Council meeting, then-Mayor Pat McCrory and then-Council Member Anthony Foxx were part of the chorus of praise for Monroe. But Nancy Carter took the extra step of commending Monroe on his creation of a new position: RAC Sergeant:
Your new super sergeants are a great innovation, and I see them out. I see them about. I see the contact they are having with the community. It makes a difference and allows our captains to do the planning that they need to do, and I’m really grateful for the time that you have allotted in that fashion.
After lots more congratulations, Monroe responded with more plan details:
Chief Monroe said in December of 2008 we made our initial presentation to Council on our strategic plan. The most significant of strategy goals outlined in the plan is to develop the enforcement strategies and align police resources to reduce crime at the neighborhood level. The key component of the neighborhood crime reductions are a high level of police visibility, citizen engagement and partnerships, response area teams accountable for crime reduction within their assigned areas, rapid response to emerging crime trends, emphasis on chronic offenders, and services that are offered at the neighborhood and division level.
. . .
Department reorganization in 2008 was focused on redeploying upwards of 85 officers back into the neighborhoods, the development of the response area commanders, development of focus mission teams that go out in each division and focus on specific crimes in their divisions, increased resources in gangs, aggravated assaults and gun-related crimes.
For the City, Chief Monroe or CMPD representatives to claim RAC Sergeants that have been in place for over three years and remain on the budget for 2012 are “temporary reassignments” is as absurd as some other actions they have taken.
Of course, he also made this statement about the crime statistics he reports:
During that time, we saw some reductions in crime – a 23.8% reduction in the first full quarter after our reorganization, and finally winding up in 2008 with a 7.8% reduction in crime, which became the lowest crime per capita since 1994.
Maybe he didn’t realize the relatively ridiculous basis of trying to push the first quarter number, when the annual average reported by him was in line with national averages. Just as ridiculous, no Council Member or Mayor called him on this crazy abuse of basic math.
The other issue remains, too, that Monroe continues to keep the real crime numbers from the public and is supported in this stance by City Manager Curt Walton and the rest of the politicos. They won’t release Calls for Service or other crime information Monroe had removed from regular viewing right around the time he began reporting enormous drops in crime. Hmm.
Walton and the rest have continued to stand by any actions Monroe takes, refusing to respond to inquiries ranging from Federal spending to Crime Statistics to a couple million dollars’ worth of new police cars they say they can’t find. But one issue stands out especially now, which is that both Walton and HR refused to investigate questionable hiring and promotion questions. (see this previous post about Walton, and this one with HR concurring).
Walton responded in part with: “Promotions to the rank of Sergeant will be made in rank order as established by the final promotional eligibility list. The current Sergeant’s eligibility list expires on 11/30/2011.”
What happens after tomorrow? Who is on the new list?
Testing that took place for the new Lieutenant’s position left people with emails telling them their individual scores, but not how they ranked in line for promotion. And officers have said the final promotion eligibility list (as Walton put it) will be determined by using 20% written exam scores and 80% other means (unconfirmed by CMPD officially). This unprecedented ‘balance’ leaves the process wide open for cronyism and other problems. Walton and HR refused to give any explanation for how the Lieutenant’s process will be handled, and the rank is not in CMPD Directives which are supposed to provide process information.
Walton also wrote:
Promotions to the rank of Captain will be made from the final eligibility list by use of a rule of five. For each promotion to be made, the Chief of Police may select from the top five candidates without regard to rank order… To aid in this selection, the Chief of Police may use additional examinations or interviews, and he or she may require the production of any documentation or other materials the Chief considers appropriate.
Today a judge ruled on the appropriateness of the current process.
Tonight’s reaction from CMPD is that they are “reviewing the judge's ruling and will determine if it has any relevance to the promotion process.” (WSOC report)
Now that a ruling has been made exposing lack of due process in a Human Resources issue in the CMPD, you can bet more investigations and probably law suits will follow.
Fourteen other RAC Sergeants who did not pass the exam for the Lieutenant position Monroe says he is creating are in limbo right now. Numerous other promotions and demotions have been questioned, along with questions about hiring practices.
Good for Sgt. Hatley for standing up to Command and achieving this ruling. Sad that the City continues to support these practices and won’t take responsibility for oversight they are entrusted with. Maybe with another case in court--maybe with money on the line in real time, they will finally take a look…
One more statement Walton made in August should be considered carefully by all parties:
Key Business Executives throughout the City organization have the authority to make hiring decisions and promotions on the basis of merit and organizational need. I wholeheartedly support Chief Monroe and the Charlotte –Mecklenburg Police Department’s decisions regarding promotion to sworn ranks.