Police officers to appear before civil service group concerning status on force

Jackson’s Civil Service Commission could look into why six Jackson police officers aren’t being allowed to return to active duty, months after they were involved in police-related shootings and months after they were cleared of any wrongdoing.

The officers, who are not being named by the attorneys, are expected to present their cases to the commission October 11.

The individuals are still working for the Jackson Police Department, but had been assigned administrative duties, are not eligible for overtime and are unable to work part-time jobs as security officers, because they no longer have police powers.

The decision is effectively punishing the officers for doing their jobs, according to attorney Francis Springer.

Springer, along with Jackson attorney Michael Cory, are representing the officers.

The shootings occurred in late 2017 and early 2018. All cases were investigated internally by the department and then submitted to the Hinds County district attorney’s office for review by a grand jury.

In each of the cases, the grand jury issued a no bill, meaning they found no signs of wrongdoing, Cory said.

Once the officers were cleared, Cory said they should have been returned to active duty.

“It’s very important from a psychological standpoint to get them back on the street and doing what they do,” he said. “Also, they don’t get overtime, so it impacts their own abilities to earn a living.

“I don’t know of another law enforcement agency in the state that, as a matter of practice, has these kinds of delays.”

All six officers were serving in administrative capacities last week, with some working in the evidence room, at the downtown headquarters and at the downtown jail, attorneys said.

The officers did not have disciplinary problems prior to the shooting incidents, attorneys say.

Cory and Springer didn’t know why the officers hadn’t been allowed to go back to work, especially when the department has a shortage of officers.

In August, the Sun reported that JPD had 335 sworn patrolmen, well short of the 418 allowed under the 2018 budget. The Sun also reported that the number of sworn officers was about 50 short from the same time last year.

Cory had reached out to city attorneys but had not gotten an official response.

  He assumes the decision is political, and points to the recent decision by the administration to release the names of officers involved in police-related shootings.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba announced last week that the city was going to adopt the recommendation of an officer ID task force to release the names of officers who are involved in on-the-job shootings within the 72 hours of the incident, pending no threats to those officers’ safety. 

 

One of the officers, who spoke to the Sun on condition of anonymity, said he was told by Chief James Davis that the department was waiting on District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith to release them.

“Shuler Smith said he had nothing to do with (us) not going back to work,” the officer said. “Why are my chiefs and the head of my department telling me they’ve got to wait on Shuler Smith for paperwork. Somebody’s lining somewhere.” 

Shuler Smith was out of his office last week and couldn’t be reached for comment. Davis would not return repeated phone calls from the Sun.

Lumumba said through a spokeswoman that the city doesn’t comment on administrative matters.

The officers’ legal fees are being paid for by the Southern States Police Benevolent Association (PBA). The professional association provides “legal, disciplinary and other representation to officers who are members,” according to the group’s Website.

PBA recently authorized the attorneys to present the case to the civil service commission.

The commission is a three-member body that has jurisdiction over disciplinary matters involving Jackson city employees.

The board meets on the second Thursday of each month on the first floor of the Warren Hood Building, at 200 S. President St.