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PROCEDURE FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS AND PROHIBITION AGAINST
COMMENTS BY CITY
ON EMPLOYEE DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS

The City desires to disseminate the following information in order to inform its citizens and interested parties as to the procedure required for the disciplinary actions involving Chief Dixon and Deputy Chief Crenshaw and to explain why the City cannot disclose certain information to the public at this time. Wetumpka police officers’ actions are governed by the Police Departmental Manual and the City of Wetumpka Personnel Polices and Procedure Manual. The procedure for handling disciplinary actions involving City employees who are police officers is spelled out in those two manuals. Employees or officials who are police officers are also afforded additional protection under the Alabama statute titled Due Process for Municipal Law Enforcement Officers, which is Section 11-43-230 et. seg. of the Code of Alabama (1975, as amended). Thus, the City must not only comply with the City’ Polices and Procedure Manual and but also the Due Process requirements of Alabama Code in addressing any potential disciplinary actions involving police officers. The City has taken a methodical approach to make sure that the investigation of the allegations made in regards to the Chief and Deputy Chief was conducted in a fair and impartial manner by an independent third party. In addition, all actions taken by the City in response to this situation were done in an effort to afford protection to all parties involved in this investigation. The City has taken steps to ensure complete compliance with the applicable laws, ordinances and polices governing this process, and to make sure that the Chief and the Deputy Chief receives the fairest possible due process in this situation.

Under Alabama law the City is prohibited from disclosing any sensitive information involving personnel policy violations and disciplinary actions to the public during the process. For more information please review Water Works and Sewer Bd. of City of Talladega v. Consolidated Pub., Inc.,  892 So. 2d 859 (Alabama Supreme Court 2004) wherein the Alabama Supreme Court states that an employer, such as the City of Wetumpka, is required to afford employees with due process in any disciplinary action  and that disciplinary records are "sensitive personnel records" which are entitled to protection from disclosure. Such records MUST BE KEPT CONFIDENTIAL BY THE EMPLOYER UNTIL  THE EMPLOYEE HAS BEEN AFFORDED FULL DUE PROCESS AND ALL RIGHTS TO APPEAL HAVE EXPIRED. Failure of the City  to strictly comply with the law as delineated in the foregoing case, would be violating the employee’s rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and could subject the City  to liability for any disclosures.  Therefore, the City cannot unilaterally disclose any of the allegations, charges, evidence etc. regarding any employee disciplinary actions to the public prior to completion of the process and expiration of any appeal period. This is for the protection of the employee, not the City and may be waived in the event the employee requests a hearing before  a governmental body, such as the Council, that is subject to the Open Meetings Act.  Once the process is over and any disciplinary action is final then information held by the City is subject to such public disclosure as allowed under Alabama’s Open Records Act.