[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Walden as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Disciplinary Procedures
[Adopted 3-28-2017 by L.L. No. 6-2017]
Editor's Note: This local law was adopted as Ch. 75, but was renumbered to maintain the organization of the Code.
Pursuant to Article 8 of the New York State Village Law, the Village Board of the Village of Walden has the power and is authorized to adopt and make rules and regulations for the examination, hearing, investigation and determination of charges made or preferred against any member or members of the Village of Walden Police Department. Furthermore, the New York Court of Appeals has consistently held that police discipline may not be a subject of collective bargaining under the Taylor Law when the Legislature has expressly committed disciplinary authority over a police department to local officials. Accordingly, local Village and Town Boards may validly promulgate rules and regulations on police disciplinary procedures relating to the members of the Village Police Department.
Editor's Note: See Civil Service Law § 200 et seq.
This article is hereby enacted in order to comply with and conform to the applicable provisions of law, including Article 8 of the Village Law, the public policy of the State of New York, and Court of Appeals case law, and provides that the Village Board of Trustees shall make all final determinations concerning the investigation of complaints and imposition of disciplinary penalties with respect to members of the Village of Walden Police Department in connection with any alleged violations of the Walden Police Department rules and regulations, general orders issued by the Chief of Police and/or policy directives issued by the Village Manager.
Any member that is subject to an investigation or served with a notice of discipline may have a representative or legal counsel to represent him or her in connection with any of the proceedings provided for by this article. Any hearing of the charges alleged in a notice of discipline shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of Village Law § 8-804 and this article, and such hearing shall be transcribed by a stenographer. A copy of the transcript of the proceeding shall be provided to the member free of charge.
The Village Board hereby designates the Village Manager to review, examine and investigate complaints concerning allegations or violations of the Police Department rules and regulations, general orders issued by the Chief of Police or policy directives issued by the Village Manager. However, no authority to make a final determination in a disciplinary proceeding is hereby delegated to the Village Manager.
Disciplinary interview. As part of the disciplinary investigation, the Village Manager may conduct an interview of the member of the department that is the subject of the investigation and/or any employees that may be witnesses. Such interview(s) may, at the Village Manager's discretion, be recorded by stenographer or by audio recording. If the member is a target of the investigation, he or she shall be entitled to have a union representative or attorney present for the interview. However, such representative or attorney shall not be permitted to interfere with or otherwise obstruct the interview process. If, upon the initial request for an interview, a member who is the target of an investigation requests the presence of a union representative or legal counsel, an adjournment shall be granted until no later than 10:00 a.m. of the morning following the request for the interview, unless otherwise consented to by the Village Manager. However, where such interview is requested upon at least 24 hours' advanced notice to the member, no such adjournment shall be permitted.
Subsequent to investigatory review, the Village Manager, upon determining that a complaint against a member of the Village of Walden Police Department is substantiated, shall prepare and serve a written notice of discipline advising the member of:
The substance of the charges alleged; and
A proposed disciplinary penalty for purposes of a resolution without trial, if such an offer to resolve the disciplinary matter is being made by the Village Manager; and
A proposed disciplinary penalty to be sought and recommended by the Village if the matter proceeds to a hearing; and
A statement advising the member of his or her right to request a public hearing within seven days from the date of service of the notice and the right to be represented by legal counsel at such hearing.
Within 10 days of the service of a notice of discipline upon a member of the Village of Walden Police Department, the member shall be directed to respond, in writing, indicating whether he or she wishes to accept the proposed penalty(ies) and resolve the disciplinary matter or reject the proposed penalty(ies) and request a public hearing. If the penalty is accepted by the member, the Village Manager shall forward a copy of the notice of discipline and written response to the Village Board requesting an approval constituting a final determination, which the Village Board shall determine in accordance with New York State law. Once approved, the Village Manager shall take any and all necessary actions to carry out the provisions of the notice of discipline concerning the imposition of the penalty.
If the member elects to proceed to a hearing, the Village Manager shall thereafter provide a copy of the member's written response to the Village Board, as well as a copy of the notice of discipline, advising that a hearing has been requested in accordance with the procedures set forth in § 66-5 with a final determination of charges to be made by the Village Board. The Village Manager shall then cause formal charges and specifications to be prepared and served upon the member.
A failure by the member to indicate, in writing, within 10 days of service of a notice of discipline whether he or she wishes to accept the proposed penalty and resolve the disciplinary matter or reject the proposed penalty and proceed to a public hearing shall be deemed a rejection of any proposed settlement and a request for a public hearing, and the Village Manager shall proceed under the provisions of § 66-5. Nothing herein shall preclude the imposition of additional disciplinary charges upon a member for the member's failure to comply with directives of the Village Manager or Chief of Police to comply with the provisions of this article.
Any member of Village Police Department who is served with a notice of discipline shall be entitled, upon request, to a public hearing on the charges and specifications and is entitled to be represented at such hearing by legal counsel and should be prepared to present such witnesses and other persons as the member may have in his or her defense against any such charges. Any and all witnesses shall testify under oath. Compliance with the rules of evidence shall not be required in such hearing.
Within 45 days following the Village Board's receipt of a member's written request for a hearing, the Village Board shall appoint an independent hearing officer to hold a disciplinary hearing with regard to the charges against the member of the Village Police Department.
Unless otherwise impracticable, a hearing shall be scheduled within 90 days after appointment of a hearing officer unless otherwise mutually agreed to by the parties. The hearing officer shall determine the procedures to be followed during such hearing, and formal rules of evidence shall not apply to such hearings.
The hearing officer selected to hear and recommend a determination of the charges shall conduct a hearing and shall issue a written report containing recommended findings of fact, a finding of innocence or guilt of the charge(s), and a recommended disciplinary penalty, if applicable, to the Village Board. Said decision shall be reviewed by the Village Board, and, after its review, the Village may accept or reject, in whole or in part, the recommended findings of fact, the finding of innocence or guilt, and/or the recommended disciplinary penalty. The Village Board shall make a final determination of the charges alleged in the notice of discipline and, where applicable, shall impose any penalty consistent with the provisions of the New York State Village Law. Where a hearing officer recommends a finding of guilt after the hearing on any disciplinary charge against a member, the hearing officer shall review the disciplinary file/history of the member prior to recommendation of a penalty.
The final determination of the Village Board shall be subject to review of the Supreme Court of Orange County in the manner provided for the Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, provided that the proceeding is commenced within 60 days from the date of the Village Board's determination.
The Village Manager is hereby directed to take all necessary steps to implement the provisions of this article and to provide notice of same to the members of the Village of Walden Police Department.