Councilors Lofton and Brown had no right to conduct an investigation into John Davis when he followed the rules of law as a Police Officer, as well as a code enforcement officer

Chapter 74-274, Laws of Florida, does not apply to investigations of a police department by a city council, unless fellow law enforcement officers are used as interrogators and if the interrogation “could lead to disciplinary action, demotion, or dismissal.”  (i.e. John Davis who was a police officer and acted as a code enforcement officer who CouncilorTonja Brown stipulated what he should do and when he refused, he was eliminated as a Police Officer for which he followed established rules of law and had no actions against him as an Officer)

 

Section 3, Ch. 74-274, Laws of Florida, does not specify what type of procedure should be established by a municipality which is an “employing agency” for receipt, investigation and determination of complaints and a municipality has authority pursuant to s. 166.021 (1), does not conflict with Ch. 74-274 or take away rights of employees provided by the City’s charter set.

Chapter 74-274, Laws of Florida (ss. 112.531-112.534, F.S. (1084 Supp.) is designed to ensure certain rights for law enforcement officers.  The section granting rights to law enforcement officers while under investigation begins as follows:

 

“Whenever a law enforcement officer is under investigation and is subject to interrogation by members of his agency, for any reason which could lead to disciplinary action, demotion or dismissal, such interrogation shall be conducted under the following conditions (Section 2 (1).1”

 

“His agency” refers to the particular law enforcement agency with which he works and not to the municipality or the state or subdivision thereof which employs him.  The latter is specifically defined as “employing agency.” See s. 1(2), Ch. 74-274, supra.  Therefore, the statute does not apply to any investigations by a city council as long as fellow law enforcement officers are not used as interrogators.  Even if the City Council does use such officers as interrogators, the act would apply only if the interrogation “could leasd to disciplinary action, demotion, or dismissal.  (Isn’t it interesting that Lofton made his own investigation and John Davis was given the option to quit or be terminated as a police officer when it had noting to do with code enforcement.  Lofton and Brown had no such right as councilmembers)

 

Ch. 74-274, Laws of Florida e. does not specify what type of procedure should be established but only that “a system for the receipt, investigation and determination of complaints received by such employing agency from any person” should be established.  (Emphasis supplied.)

Section 2 (2), Ch. 74-274, Laws of Florida, provides that a complaint review board “shall be composed” of persons from specified areas, but does not give it any powers or duties whatsoever.  The legislative history of the bill is unilluminating as to what the review board was intended to do.  Furthermore, the original bill, Senate Bill 84, from which the act is derived, gave no powers to the board.  Because of the broad languate of s. 3, I am inclined to the view that the board referred to s. 2(2) was not intended to operate as a limitation on s.3.

And this is for you Lofton:   In the case of a city council being the employing agency, a. 166.021 (1), F. S., of the Municipal Home Rule Powers Act, authorizes municipalities to “EXERCISE ANY POWER FOR MUNICIPAL PURPOSE EXCEPT WHEN EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED BY LAW.”
A City Council could use this power to establsh any system for investigation of complaints which does not conflict with the requirements of Ch. 74-274, Laws of Florida, or take away any rights of employees provided by the city’s charter act.

 

Joe Griffin

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