Saturday, January 12, 2019

Commissioner Cries to Legislature.

Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher whined to the legislature Thursday about alleged unfair treatment from the State Personnel Board.  The Commish thinks he has the right to be a dictator and fire anyone who catches his ire, the truth be damned.  Unfortunately, a Clarion-Ledger reporter,  Giacomo Bologna, fell for his act hook, line, and sinker.  Mr. Bologna reported:

They were high on-duty, behaved dangerously on the shooting range or tested positive for opiates.

One threatened to kill his wife and her attorney.

The Department of Public Safety has tried to fire these officers, said Commissioner Marshall Fisher, but the officers got reinstated.

Fisher blamed the State Personnel Board, which gives some state employees protections against firing.

The board has too much discretion, he told lawmakers Wednesday.

Oh really? Perhaps a certain trooper should sue Marshall Fisher and the Clarion-Ledger. The Commissioner is referring to an incident that was reported by JJ in April:

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety failed yet again in its attempt to purge a sissified trooper from the ranks of the Mississippi Highway Patrol.  The Mississippi Employee Appeals Board ordered DPS to reinstate with back pay Sergeant James Richards.  DPS fired Sgt. Richards for the unlawful use of controlled substances even though he was recovering from hip replacement surgery and had prescriptions for the drugs he used.

Sergeant Richards has been a trooper since 2000.  He suffered through a major hip replacement surgery in 2015 and was given several legal prescriptions.  The medications were opioids, a benzo, and a schedule II.  The Sergeant attended training and weapons qualification on October 31, 2016.  He "successfully qualified" with three different firearms.  However, DPS officials claimed he was acting sluggish and were "suspicious" he was "under the influence."

DPS made him submit to a drug test.  Sergeant Richards tested positive for all of his prescribed medications.  He did not test positive for any substance for which there was not a prescription. Earlier post.
 Unfortunately for the sissy, DPS fired him for the unlawful use of controlled substances even though he was following a physician's orders and had a valid prescription for all medications.   The good Sergeant appealed to the State Personnel Board.  The Appeals Board said DPS lied when it fired Sergeant Richards since is provided no evidence that he had illegally used a controlled substance.  DPS didn't even blink an eye but instead asked the Board to hear its appeal en banc.  DPS also shamelessly asked the Board to ignore the charge of "unlawful use" and said it was "harmless error.  You read that correctly.  DPS fires the poor trooper for a bogus charge of "unlawful use" of controlled substances even though he had a legal prescription and then tries to call it harmless error.  Um, yeah.

The Board told these REMF's to go to hell (in more polite terms) and ordered DPS to reinstate him with back pay.

Unfortunately, readers wouldn't know any of these facts after reading the Clarion-Ledger story.  A reporter such as Mr. Bologna should have read the actual order before accepting Mr. Fisher's word as gospel.  Instead, he allowed Mr. Fisher to throw his tantrum unchallenged:

 Speaking to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Fisher said the personnel board can be a “kangaroo court." He said officers who come back on the force then appear to be "bulletproof" from future discipline.

“They're a supervisor’s nightmare," Fisher said.

The officers under DPS include highway patrol troopers and officers in the Mississippi bureaus of investigations and narcotics.
One state senator cautioned him against disparaging officers.

“We have enough negative media toward law enforcement," said Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune. "And we don’t really need to do anything to add to it.”

Fisher responded that law enforcement agencies need discipline to operate properly.

“We’re not running a day care center," Fisher said. "It’s not rainbows and lollipops out there.”

Fisher stressed, though, that the officers he wants to fire are not representative of his department.

Unfortunately, Commissioner Crybaby is all too representative of his department as the lawsuits and grievances continue to pile up against DPS as do the losses.  The Commissioner doesn't want the rules changed to he can save money.  He doesn't like it that his agency is held accountable.

 The problem is the Mississippi Department of Public Safety thinks it is accountable to no one. It wasn't JJ that abused the clothing allowanceIt wasn't JJ that is forced to repay $7.1 million because it can't manage a grant. It wasn't JJ that settled a reverse discrimination lawsuit  or had to settle multiple employment discrimination lawsuits for $388,906. It wan't JJ that had several troopers accused of writing bogus tickets to get paid under federal grant and changed the procedures for their disciplinary hearing.  It wasn't JJ that screwed up the payment of the advertising contract or gave a million-dollar emergency no-bid contract because it botched the RFP.  It wasn't JJ that got caught by the feds for misspending the DUI grants.   It wasn't JJ that got caught having sex with a trucker on the job and escaped discipline.

Serve & Protect at the Mississippi Department of Public Safety means DPS leaders serve themselves & protect their asses.  There is incompetence and cronyism run amuck at that agency, and this entire fiasco is glaring evidence of it.  They are bureaucrats who hide in ratholes behind badges of blue while the politicians look the other way and that my friends, is the bottom line.  Meanwhile, Commissioner Crybaby whines to the legislature when he is actually held accountable for ruining the lives of Mississippi troopers.

As for Mr. Bologna, perhaps he should read the order posted below if he wants to do his job properly.   After he reads it, he should issue a public apology to Sergeant Richards.


Anonymous said...

Wow you made a lot of assumptions. How can you that this is the case or that it is the only case.

Anonymous said...

When you are given a prescription for a mood altering medication you are also given instructions not to use it while driving or engaging in dangerous acts. Discharging firearms is a dangerous act. All of these patient education materials are included at the time of purchase and most throw them in the trash. None the less they are included. Alcohol is legal, but driving while intoxicated is not!! If he was seen as sluggish he should have been tested and if positive, fired.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with your analysis. When the article appeared in the Clarion-Ledger, I was disappointed (but certainly NOT surprised) about the Clarion-Ledger's "conclusions" and it was obvious that the reporter did NOT know the actual facts. Too often, people claiming to be journalists do not investigate -- they simply report as gospel the first version they hear and they then report "Fake News".

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like DPS really needs, in cases such as this, a policy to address situations where officers must, out of medical necessity, take mind/mood-altering medications by prescription.

It also sounds to me like DPS administrators do NOT need unchecked, god-like power to do anything they want, they way they want to do it. Of course, if that's what one wants, the place to go and get it is the legislature. Agencies have doing that for a long time.

Wisedowl said...

Where is T B Birdsong when we need him? Bologna Bologna Bologna! Go back to Yankeeville.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 10:31, Richards should not have qualified while taking his prescriptions - even though he thought he understood the effects, he isn't a medical professional and should follow the instructions included with the prescription. That being said, Richards should have been placed on restricted duty until he no longer needed pain medication. Every DPS Commissioner complains about about reassign all of the sworn folks back to the road, and put civilians in administrative positions - does it really take a gun-toter to oversee the issuance of licenses and concealed carry permits?

And don't get me started on the hijinks at DPS - from homeland security directors who negligently discharge their weapons in the office and sleep with their subordinates, to narcotics agents who sleep with their informants, and married troopers who screw married women in the stairwell at HQ, and troopers who can't seem to help themselves around truckers...the entire agency needs to be rethought - it is a relic of a bygone era of policing. Change is painful, but it needs to start somewhere.

Should DPS be given greater authority to manage its workforce, short answer yes - but on a very short legal leash.

Anonymous said...

Giacomo Bologna - is that made up?

Anonymous said...

Stay in your lane Marshall

Anonymous said...

When a deputy who had done nothing but be a deputy appoints a deputy this is what you get

It's Really Not That Difficult.. said...

Possessing a prescription for a narcotic medication is not a ticket to ride. And it's NO permission-slip to engage in job situations that are contra-indicated on the packaging instructions and cautions that come with every prescription.

Employers, in this case DPS, have no right or authority to know what legal drugs an employee is taking. If and when an employee tests positive, it's up to an MRO (medical review officer) to investigate whether or not the positive resulted from a legally prescribed medication. That, however, does NOT give the employee any authority (or free passage) to take the medication while engaging in activities covered by the drug's cautions.

I suggest that it was the employee's responsibility to apply for FMLA if his duties conflicted with cautions for a certain drug. And his application for FMLA would have required that his doctor certify his medical inability to perform the functions of his job (while on the drug). Alternatively, his doctor could have suggested/requested the suspension of certain job activities while on the drug. If eligible for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), the employer would have been required to put the employee back to work on regular duty at the expiration of the approved period of FMLA.

I don't know if this is what Fisher got twisted around the axle over or not, but it does address the situation brought into the discussion (above).

Kingfish said...

Making good points. Keep in mind the trooper did qualify that day with three different weapons. I imagine (correct me if I'm wrong) it's pistol, AR-15, and shotgun.

Anonymous said...

If crybaby Commissioner was so worried about Jim Richards (A Trooper) being a danger because he was taking a prescribe drug, then why did he and Chris Gillard let a Cadet in Cadet School get away with having 3 firearms safety violations (which is an automatic dismissal) one pointing his primary weapon at the videographer, two loading his weapon when he was told not to, and three pointing his loaded AR-15 at 21 Cadets while on the firing line. And this guy hadn’t even been hired.

Anonymous said...

LEO firearms qualication is a joke. Better use another example

Anonymous said...

Agree about the MRO. It's all on him (or her).

What did the MRO testify to?

Anonymous said...

Having a hothead like this at the top of a male-dominated macho organization is ripe for some good stories. And lawsuits. He would have been perfect back in the 50s.

Anonymous said...

It's NOT 'all on the MRO'. All the MRO does is check with the employee to learn whether the reason for the positive was due to a legally prescribed medication. The MRO has no responsibility beyond that.

It was 'all on the employee' to get himself back on FMLA with a job-duty restriction during the period of time he was to take the medication. An MRO is not even in the picture at that point and the employer is has no knowledge (or shouldn't) of medications the employee is taking.

BUT...if this employee had injured or killed someone while discharging his weapon while taking the prescription, he would be in some serious hot water. And if the FMLA paperwork had mentioned this restriction, and HR knew it and did not inform the people in charge of the firing-line-requirement, somebody else would have been culpable too.

This is why you should never return an FMLA employee to duty unless and until he can perform the primary essential functions of his job. Period.

At the end of the day, this should have resulted in nothing more than a counseling session between a competent HR official and the employee. It's certainly nothing for Fisher to piss his diaper over, but it does seem he's always incontinent in that respect.

Anonymous said...

When I first read Gerry Baloney's story in the Clarion-Ledger I knew immediately that, like a pedophile, Fisher had found a new naïve reporter to groom and abuse.

I'm not voting for Jim Hood and I don't want Jim Hood to win. But if ever there was one issue on which I would support Jim Hood it would be my 99.9999% sure belief that he would send Marshall Fisher packing.

Anonymous said...

8:47...I see what you did there - you used competent when referring to MS DPS. When you find one competent person at DPS, let me know. I'll be waiting...

Anonymous said...

This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks. DPS has recently fired 5 troopers in the last six months. One of them had an EAB hearing and the Pesonnel Board ruled in favor of the state (notice how that was never mentioned). Last week one of the troopers got his job back with full benefits and back pay, although DPS appealed it to the next level. There are 3 more troopers waiting on their trials now and there’s a 90% chance that they too will be reinstated. Only after Fisher drags them through every level of the court system, wasting tax payers money and running up attorney fees for those troopers. I really thought Fisher would be a great addition to DPS when he was appointed, but he has since proved wrong, along with his puppet, Chris Gillard. Together they have successfully ruined DPS. Employees are practically breaking down the doors to retire at their earliest opportunity or just leave all together. It’s funny how none of their dirt is ever aired in the media. Just a week ago a handful of cadets in this new patrol academy were dismissed after failing a drug screening. There’s also 2 known “gang members” who were allowed to attend the academy that both were failed on their backgrounds. There were 9 cadets that failed the polygraph in the hiring process that were permitted to retake the test, which 8 of the 9 were allowed to attend the academy. Bottom line is, the commissioner and his staff are dirty. If Phil had any part of a brain, he would wipe DPS clean and start over fresh. They need someone in there that’s going to focus on taking care of his/her people instead of purposely sabotaging them. I fear that it may already be too late.

Anonymous said...

This is not new DPS has been operating this way for years. I know many who have gotten awY with much worse. One in Greenwood game to work drunk. They called hq to see what to do. They were told to just take him home. Nothing happened.

Anonymous said...

DPS sells itself as the best of the best of the best - what a crock of shit. The whole hiring process at DPS is corrupt, and their background investigations are a joke - they ignore obvious disqualifying information based on who the applicant knows, or who they list for references. DPS misses out on a lot of good candidates because of this bullshit, but DPS doesn't really want smart or talented thinkers - they want ass-kissing yes men.

11:58, what were the troopers fired for?

Anonymous said...

Only a governor, any governor, can straighten out the DPS mess. The looming question is WHY WON'T HE? Why didn't the last three? Why won't the next one?

Anonymous said...

Fordice had it squared away. The last three governors have had it screwed up so damn bad. DPS is gone. They eat their young with no remorse. There won’t be any troopers if it keeps going the way it is now. I’m starting to think Fisher was put there to kill DPS.

Rick Ward said...

I don't know anything about this case but I strongly concur with the Personnel Board that DPS lies and I wouldn't put it past the Commissioner himself. Because he has lied to me. As far as I am concerned he is a worthless so-called leader that must have his head so far up the Governor's butt that he can taste his tonsils. I also agree that Governor will not do anything and he must have something on the Governor. I tried repeatedly through Jay Ledbetter, the Governor's assistant to get him to do something about the Firearms Division outright lying about permit revocations requested through the Public Records Act. He finally told me the Governor WAS NOT going to make Fischer do anything. I went to the Senate State Office Investigations Committee and through the PEER committee. He was untouchable and I can't wait for a new Governor to fire that worthless POS.

Anonymous said...

Rick, what was the stated reason for the permit revocations? Sounds interesting...

Anonymous said...

DPS and the Highway Patrol will not change their M.O. until they bring in leadership from outside of DPS and MHP. They bill themselves as the elite law enforcement agency in the state but all they really do is work wrecks and write tickets.

Municipal and Sheriff Department's do that plus actually investigate crimes, answer calls, etc.

MBI takes the "smart" troopers and makes them investigators but they are still troopers investigating troopers.

MHP has a 20-25 year retirement while the state bumped local and other state LE officers to 30 years. Plus, a trooper can still work for the state after retirement. Why? Because they lobby the f*** out of Jackson every legislative session.

MHP could jump aboard like other states and do an abbreviated trooper school and take certified law enforcement officers. Alabama just recently held their first abbreviated class and it went very well. It would save the state time, money, and resources. Plus, you are getting a cop/deputy with some time in law enforcement. But that will never happen as long as a DPS or MHP employee is at the top because that's not how it's always been. Those officers would never be considered "real troopers" in their eyes.

The biggest issue with MHP is lack of oversight. Whether it's administrative or on the road. There is no real checking up with road troopers so they are out there doing whatever they want with no real consequences. Heck, they don't even WRITE REPORTS (unless it's a felony or high profile)! What law enforcement agency can get away without writing reports?? If heard of troopers overlooking felonies because they would be forced to write a report. Again, lack of oversight and supervision.

Anonymous said...

What 11:44 said! There are no telling how many Troopers who are lobbyist every legislative session. If you go to the MS LEG site you can search for they many "MHP bills" that get introduced every session.

Take this one for instance: HB 136


MHP would get $9.05 for EVERY ticket in the state, $24.35 for EVERY DUI in the state, $8.90 for EVERY game and fish violation, $12.18 for EVERY speeding, careless, or reckless driving ticket, and $28.05 for EVERY felony.

What a load of crap! If this passes (which I doubt it) you better believe they will be out even more hitting people for every violation they can come up with.

This is the type of crap MHP gets away with.

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