Civil service board to review investigation
HAMMOND — Hammond Police Chief Roddy Devall was ordered back on the job last week by a New Orleans-based federal judge who determined that the city’s civil service board failed to give the chief a hearing before placing him on administrative leave.
The June 17 ruling by U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier does not stop the Hammond Municipal Police and Fire Civil Service Board from conducting an investigation into the complaint lodged against Devall.
On Monday, the board received a copy of the evidence and findings on the incident that resulted in Devall’s being placed on administrative leave with pay but chose not to publicly discuss the report’s contents until later this week.
Mark A. Waniewski, chief executive officer of PMI Resource of Shreveport, a law firm that specializes in civil service law, presented the five members of the civil service board with binders containing the findings in the case.
After Waniewski’s brief presentation, David Danel, chairman of the board, said the investigation’s conclusions in the case would not be released to the public until members of the board had a chance to review the matter. Danel said a public hearing will be held Thursday so the matter can be discussed in open session. The time of that meeting will be announced later, Danel said.
Waniewski said 10 copies of the report had been printed, one for each member of the board, an official copy for the board’s files and more copies for use as the board saw fit.
Waniewski’s firm was hired after a complaint was made by Hammond police Officer Jennifer Payne in early May that claimed the release of personal information following her arrest on April 25 on alleged drug charges had placed her in possible danger. Following Payne’s arrest for alleged “doctor shopping,” Payne claims that Devall authorized the release of a news story that included Payne’s picture and her home address. That action, Payne contended, violated her civil service rights.
Devall was subsequently placed on paid administrative leave, had his police vehicle privileges withdrawn and was told by the board not to have any contact with members of the police force.
Devall, through his attorney Jill Craft, of Baton Rouge, filed suit early last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana asking that he be reinstated as police chief.
On the evening of June 17, following a telephone conference call with members of the board, Judge Barbier ordered that Devall be put back to work.
In her brief filed with the federal court, Kraft contended that releasing Payne’s photo and address did not violate any laws, as her attorney suggested.
Payne is represented in the proceedings by attorney Ted Alpaugh.