SHREVEPORT, La. – A Shreveport police sergeant who lost his bid Tuesday to stop his transfer from patrol and separate move to oust the police chief has filed suit against his boss and the city.
Sgt. Michael Carter is asking a judge to stop Chief Ben Raymond and the city from requiring him to perform duties that would conflict with his elected position on the civil service board. He also wants assurances he will not be disciplined for refusing to do anything that would create a conflict between his police and civil service roles.
And Carter also wants the court to reverse his transfer from patrol to the Human Resources.
The lawsuit filed Thursday is in response to a vote Tuesday by the Shreveport Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board in which Carter argued that Raymond’s recent move to transfer him was a discriminate and deliberate move to get him off the civil service board. Carter also wanted Raymond removed from his provisional police chief's position.
Carter, who also serves as the board’s president, went before his fellow board members to appeal a decision by Raymond to move him from patrol duty to a human resources position.
The board determined in a 6-2 vote the transfer was not an abuse of the chief’s power. The vote came after three hours of testimony.
After the hearing, Carter said he still believed the move by Raymond was an abuse of power.
During the hearing, Carter strongly maintained his move to HR would put him in conflict with the civil service board and cause him to rescues himself or resign. He asserted repeatedly that he would not resign from the board.
Raymond disagreed the Carter would have to resign. He said his decision to place Carter in HR was in the best interest of the department in that Carter, with his expertise in HR, would be a benefit by being in a role to help change policies and procedures.
Raymond noted that many disciplinary cases before the civil service board are being kicked back for violations of the officers’ bill of rights. That led Raymond to say he believed “our policies and procedures should be tweaked.”
Instead of being transferred to HR, Carter, who has a doctorate in organizational psychology and has a private consulting business, said he’s offered to train HR employees.
Several citizens spoke during the lengthy session, including attorney Pam Breedlove who represents many police officers and firefighters before the board. She sided with Carter, saying the move was a way to get Carter to recuse himself from votes on the civil service board.
Breedlove filed the lawsuit on Carter’s behalf.
Carter, a 23-year police veteran who’s also headed the Shreveport Police Officer’s Association since 2002, was elected in 2015 to serve as one of two police appointments to the civil service board. He was elected chairman in October 2016.
But in 2015, the city sued Carter to get him removed from the board, alleging it would be a conflict with his police association duties. However, another police officer, Sgt. Lewis, who also held dual roles on the board and police association was not sued. The city’s lawsuit was dismissed in September 2016.
Carter and Lewis were cleared of subsequent complaints filed with the state ethics board.
The lawsuit states Carter’s transfer to HR is an abuse of power in a clear attempt influence and control decisions of the board that review the actions and decisions of Raymond by:
- Causing Carter to recuse on many and/or selected cases before the board which could result in the action standing due to a tie vote and/or due to the lack of participation by Carter;
- Causing Carter to face another Ethics Board complaint and possible discipline by the Ethics Board; and/or
- Giving Raymond grounds to begin disciplinary action against Carter up to and including termination if he refuses to perform services that would conflict with his duties as a board member; and
- Suppressing the vote of the members of SPD for their representative on the board by precluding and/or attempting to preclude Carter from participating in appeals, voting on the appeals, and representing their interests on the board.