Posts tagged ‘dickerson’

City attorney backs Cryer

*published Aug. 13, 2010
Van Norman: Westlake police chief had inherent right to suspend officer

WESTLAKE — Citing state Supreme Court cases, City Attorney John Van Norman III said that being able to suspend an officer is one of Police Chief Jeremy Cryer’s inherent rights as chief.

On Monday, Aug. 9, Cryer suspended Michael Dickerson, his opponent in the upcoming election, for two weeks after an internal investigation determined he threatened a woman while on duty. Dickerson has denied the allegation, but on his counsel’s advice declined to comment further.

Under R.S. 33:423, chiefs in certain small towns “shall make recommendations to the mayor and board of aldermen for appointment of police personnel, for the promotion of officers, to effect disciplinary action, and for dismissal of police personnel.”

The provision is part of the Lawrason Act, a set of laws that Westlake was incorporated under. The statutes exempt more than a dozen municipalities, along with towns whose populations fell between 5,900 and 6,200 people as of the 1990 census. None of the exemptions apply to Westlake.

Van Norman said he knows the law grants oversight powers to the city’s governing board, but that he deferred to the chief’s inherent power to run his office.

“If you have an officer who doesn’t want to work on Saturday and he goes to the City Council, is the chief supposed to let that shift be short an officer,” he said.

Van Norman cited two state Supreme Court cases: Lentini v. Kenner and Gros v. Patterson.

In the Lentini case, the high court agreed with a police chief’s contention that a city ordinance, in listing specific job duties for chiefs, unlawfully limited his authority.

“Municipalities derive their powers from the State,” the ruling reads. “Being creatures of this higher authority, they cannot legislate beyond the bounds fixed by the State Constitution and general laws.”

In the Gros case, the court said the assistant police chief of Patterson couldn’t sue for back pay and benefits he said he was owed for the period between his suspension by the chief and his firing by the council.

His pay had been withheld by the mayor.

The justices agreed with an appellate court ruling that said Gros wasn’t entitled to recover wages because he never took legal action against the suspension.


August 13, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Candidate for chief of police suspended

*published Aug. 12, 2010
Dickerson allegedly threatened woman

WESTLAKE — A city police officer who’s challenging the chief of police for his job has been suspended for two weeks, but the action apparently violates state law.

Michael Dickerson, a 14-year veteran with the department, was placed on paid leave Monday after an internal investigation showed “numerous policy violations,” Chief Jeremy Cryer said.

Dickerson denied allegations he threatened a woman July 28, but under advice from his attorney, he declined to comment further in an interview with the American Press.

Cryer said his decision wasn’t politically motivated. The chief, who has led the 20-member Westlake Police Department for six years, is facing a challenge from Dickerson in the Oct. 2 election.

“The internal investigation had to take place because he was on duty and in uniform when this took place,” Cryer said.

Under the Lawrason Act — a set of state laws that apply to Westlake and other non-chartered municipalities — elected chiefs can’t promote, discipline or fire officers without first recommending the actions to the mayor and City Council.

In this case, evidence from the internal investigation would have to be presented to the council in executive session, and council members would make a decision.

As of Aug. 11, Westlake city records listed no agenda item for a special meeting or executive session.

On July 27, the owner of a hair salon on Sampson Street reportedly allowed Dickerson to place a campaign sign in front of her business.

The complainant, Pam Richmond, works at the salon and said she was under the impression that Cryer would also place a campaign sign in front of the business.

On July 28, Richmond said she moved the sign, with the owner’s permission, to an area behind the building to protect it from bad weather.

Dickerson reportedly asked Richmond not to remove the sign and said that if she didn’t like it, to call him and he would remove it.

Richmond said Dickerson came in the salon, spoke with the owner, then came and blocked her in a corner. She said he had an angry tone and angry eyes.

“I thought he was about to get violent,” Richmond said. “I was shocked, and that’s why I filed the complaint” later that day.

Richmond said she lives outside the city limits and has no stake in the election.

Cryer said he referred her to the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office, which referred her to the district attorney, with whom she is scheduled to meet on Friday.


August 12, 2010 at 7:48 pm