Fired Police Chief to Get Civil Service Hearing
After a nearly 15-minute discussion, the Lafayette Police and Fire Civil Service Board voted to hear the appeal of fired Lafayette police chief Thomas Glover.
The board voted 3-1 with one abstention to give Glover a hearing during which he can present his case of wrongful termination. L. Wayne Prejean was the lone no vote. Christina Olivier abstained because her husband is a police officer.
According to board chairman Paul Mouton, Glover contacted the board's secretary 35 minutes before the meeting to say that he would not be present for today's proceedings. Assistant city-parish attorney Mike Hebert then told the board that Glover's presence was not necessary to discuss and vote on whether he should get an appeals hearing.
Glover says he was not told that the item would be on today's agenda until he saw two news reports online Tuesday night.
"I contacted them this morning to let them know that I was out of town, and I let them know that I never got notice," Glover said. "The guidelines say they must give 10-day notice."
Despite this, Glover says he applauds the board's vote.
"I think it's the proper thing to do," Glover said. "I'm willing to move forward with it because (LCG) broke the rules, and there should be consequences for that."
In a letter submitted to the board, Glover cites a state law which says a class of provisional employee with between six months and one year of employment may appeal his firing to a civil service board--but only on the grounds that the employee was not given an opportunity to prove himself in that position. The letter also accuses Lafayette Consolidated Government of violating its own Personnel Policy Manual during the process leading up to his termination.
Before calling for the vote, Mouton reiterated to his fellow board members and to the small audience gathered in the meeting room that the hearing will cover only the question of whether Glover was given a chance to prove himself and not grounds for cause of firing.
Prejean, a former Lafayette fire chief, said based on his understanding of the law, Glover has no right to appeal.
"It takes a year and a day before you are confirmed civil service," Prejean said after the meeting. "You really have no appeal rights. The law is specific. You have to be in the department for a year and a day.
"The fire chief and the police chief have the same right (as the mayor)," Prejean said. "If I hire somebody to be a firefighter and I don't think he's cutting the mustard, under one year, I can let him go and not have an appeal."
Mouton, a sergeant in the Lafayette Police Department, disagrees.
"(Glover) met the criteria by submitting his letter prior in regards to appealing his actual termination. If he met that criteria for us to hold that hearing, then we're going to allow that employee or former employee to have that opportunity to explain himself here before the board. The board acts at the pleasure of its class members, but we also represent the City of Lafayette, and we want to make good and sound decisions, and we want everyone to be heard if they're given that opportunity.
Prejean said Glover should have gone another route to challenge his firing.
"I personally think he should have gotten an attorney right away and went to the mayor's office and said, 'If you have a reason, I want to know.'"
"That's not the way it works," Glover rebutted. "I respect Mr. Prejean's opinion on it. I know him well, and I enjoyed working with him while I was there, but that's not how I was advised to do it based on the guidelines."
The board will set Glover's hearing date at a later time. Mouton says it's now up to Glover to prove his case.
"He'll be given an opportunity to come before the board," Mouton said. "Like I said during the meeting, I think the burden of proof is on him to show exactly what he means by all the things he cited in the letter."
The full text of Glover's letter is included below: