Up to now, when a police officer attended a disciplinary hearing to give a formal statement, he or she could choose to bring either an attorney or a union representative. They can soon have both.
A new law, sponsored by Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Leo Foley (DFL-Coon Rapids), puts this in statute. Signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty April 17, the law takes effect Aug. 1, 2008.
Jim Michaels, a labor attorney working with the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, told a House committee that since the Peace Officers Bill of Rights was enacted in 1991 there has been increased scrutiny in the conduct of police officers.
There are agencies that allow police officers to have an attorney and union representative at these hearings, Michaels said, but others force officers to choose. Because different situations require different representation, police officers should have all of the options available, he said.
“Police investigations can be very complex. They can be internal; they can be criminal; they can be civil,” said John Delmonico, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis. He said the legislation would give cops “the option to have the best possible representation.”
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