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Officer Freed from ‘Catch 22’ in Disciplinary Action by Town of Cheverly

A police department may not revoke an officer’s certification to make arrests and then bypass disciplinary procedures because he isn’t an “officer,” the Court of Special Appeals held yesterday.The decision is a win for Derek Leocadio Day, a 19-year veteran of the University of Maryland Baltimore Police Department (UMPD), who joined the Town of Cheverly Police Department in April 1999.That summer, Day was suspended and lost his state certification to make arrests while he was investigated for his use of sick leave at UMPD. But when he was cleared of that charge, the Cheverly police department dismissed him without ever asking the state to revive his certification. Since Day was not certified, Cheverly argued, he was not entitled to the procedural protections found in the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBOR).“Day was undoubtedly faced with somewhat of a Catch 22 — only the Cheverly Department could request the reissuance of his certification card, but, until the Cheverly Department did so, Day could not qualify as a ‘law enforcement officer’ thus entitling him to LEOBOR protections for his dismissal by the Department,” Judge Charles E. Moylan Jr. wrote for the Court of Special Appeals.The decision affirms the trial court, which said that LEOBOR’s procedures could not be bypassed merely by returning an officer’s certification card to the Maryland Police Training Commission, which is responsible for issuing the cards.“We do not believe the rights granted under LEOB[O]R are in any way contingent or dependent on the actions of the MPTC. The MPTC is a separate, statutory creation of the Maryland General Assembly for the purpose of establishing and maintaining standards for the training of police officers in our state,” Moylan wrote in quoting Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge C. Philip Nichols Jr.Day had no power to request the MPTC to return his certification card, Moylan noted. The MPTC refused to consider it without a request from the Cheverly police department. But the Cheverly police department did not ask MPTC to return Day’s certification after Day was cleared “even though that single cloud on his former employment and, therefore, his new employment, had then totally disappeared,” Moylan wrote.<table width=”100%” border=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ cellpadding=”0″

WHAT THE COURT HELD

Case: Town of Cheverly Police Department, et. al. v. Derek Leocadio Day, CSA No. 2744, Sept. Term 1999. Reported. Opinion by Moylan, J. Filed November 29, 2000.Issue: Can a police department revoke an employee’s “officer” status, and thus his rights under LEOBOR, by returning his certification card to the Maryland Police Training Commission≠Holding: No. MPTC sets standards for officers — it is not empowered to resolve disciplinary proceedings.Counsel: Richard T. Colaresi for appellant; Benjamin R. Wolman and Lynae Turner for appellee.RecordFax: 0-1129-02(11 pages)