Police officer’s suspension delayed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Selma Police Department Lt. Bill Hamner’s suspension has been, well, suspended.

After about 90 minutes of discussion between Henry Pitts, Hamner’s attorney, and City Attorney Jimmy Nunn, it was agreed to postpone Tuesday’s appeal hearing. According to Nunn, the appeal process will continue after Christmas, though changes will be included.

Nunn noted that Hamner’s suspension was postponed pending the next hearing.

Hamner received a 10-day suspension from Mayor James Perkins Jr. on Dec. 8. The suspension was scheduled to begin Dec. 18, but its start date is now in limbo.

Reasons given for the suspension include conduct unbecoming an employee in the public service and reasons deemed to be in the best interests of public service.

Selma’s personnel board assembled in council chambers at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to hear Hamner’s appeal, but before the first witness could be called Pitts asked for clarification on the hearing.

According to Pitts, a pre-disciplinary hearing would determine if Hamner should or shouldn’t be suspended. An appeal hearing could occur after the pre-disciplinary hearing, and at that hearing Hamner’s punishment could be rescinded, modified or overruled.

Pitts made reference to an act passed by the Legislature dealing with pre-disciplinary hearings. According to Pitts, the law states it’s invalid to combine a pre-disciplinary hearing and a meeting of the personnel board.

Nunn, though, said that the act didn’t apply to Selma since it already had procedures in place. &uot;This is the hearing. This is the appeal,&uot; he said.

The proceeding then concentrated around a table the personnel board sat around. Nunn and Pitts approached the table to speak to board members, and council chambers slowly began to fill with discussion from the crowd.

By 6 p.m. an agreement had been reached. Hamner’s suspension is postponed pending a hearing with an impartial officer or the person with the authority to suspend and terminate city employees, which is Perkins. The hearing will occur in an executive session.