Bill Summaries: S697 (2021-2022 Session)

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  • Summary date: Apr 8 2021 - View summary

    Enacts new GS Chapter 17F, Dismissal of Certain Law Enforcement Officers, to be cited as the "Municipal Law Enforcement Accountability, Transparency, and Fairness Act." Defines the scope of the Chapter to be all municipal law enforcement agencies and includes unified city-county government police agencies; excludes law enforcement officers employed by the State, a county, a local ABC board, a school board, a county police department, a company police agency, a campus police agency, or any other law enforcement agency created by the State as a special policy agency.

    Prohibits employing agencies, as defined, from dismissing career employment officers but for just cause. Defines career law enforcement officer to mean an employee of a local entity who is in a permanent position appointment and has been continuously employed by the employing agency for the immediate 12 preceding months. Directs employing agencies, as defined, to adopt rules that define just cause, subject to the approval of the municipality's governing authority. Requires employing agencies to establish notice and hearing procedures to be conducted prior to disciplinary action against law enforcement officers, with minimum rights of the officer to include the right to a hearing before an impartial board or hearing officer, representation at the officer's expense, the right to question any witnesses who give oral statements against the officer, the right to call witnesses and present evidence, and the right to have all meetings recorded for use at any supplemental adjudicatory hearing or court proceeding. 

    Directs all municipalities subject to the new Chapter to establish an impartial hearing officer or review board to review all disciplinary actions appealed by an aggrieved law enforcement officer and hold hearings for formal determination of a final decision of the review board. Provides officers the right to representation at the officer's expense. Permits the use of the rules of civil procedure and evidence. Grants the officer the right to call witnesses and present evidence, and question any witness who provided information to the employing agency that resulted in the commencement of the action before the review board. Bars statement or evidence from admissibility if a witness fails to appear at the hearing. Requires all hearings to be recorded. Provides for copies of recordings or a transcript upon request at cost. 

    Deems employing agencies that have an established civil service system, agency review board, civilian complaint board, or personnel board that provides due process to be in compliance with the new Chapter. 

    Directs each municipality subject to the new Chapter to adopt an ordinance that provides the minimum rights required by the Chapter, as well as the membership and powers of the review board. Requires the ordinance to establish policy for addressing dismissals, grievances, and defining just cause

    Applies to disciplinary actions taken against law enforcement officers employed by municipalities on or after December 1, 2021.