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12/04/89 Francis M. Ganz, v. James B. Zagel

December 4, 1989

FRANCIS M. GANZ, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

JAMES B. ZAGEL, DIRECTOR, THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE POLICE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIRST DIVISION

550 N.E.2d 1007, 193 Ill. App. 3d 1051, 140 Ill. Dec. 882 1989.IL.1866

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Albert Green, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE CAMPBELL delivered the opinion of the court. MANNING, P.J., and O'CONNOR, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CAMPBELL

Plaintiff, Francis M. Ganz, appeals from the trial court's order dismissing his amended complaint for declaratory judgment filed against James B. Zagel, Director, State of Illinois, Department of State Police (the Department). Plaintiff, a former probationary State Police trooper, had sought a declaration that he had a property right to a change of field training officers (FTOs), a procedure set forth in the Department's Field Training Manual, and a declaration that his resignation from the Department should be rescinded. For the following reasons, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

The record indicates that on December 15, 1985, the Department hired plaintiff as a probationary State Police trooper. On April 4, 1986, after 16 weeks at the Springfield State Police Academy, plaintiff graduated and was assigned to field training. During field training, plaintiff initially received favorable ratings from three State Police troopers. He was then assigned to field training officer Eileen Daley. As a result of a personality conflict with FTO Daley, on May 31, 1986, plaintiff submitted a written request to Master/Sergeant Hall asking for a reassignment to a different FTO. The request was denied. Consequently, on June 5, 1986, plaintiff resigned from the Department. On July 14, 1986, plaintiff requested that his resignation be rescinded. The Department refused his request on October 31, 1986.

On March 30, 1987, plaintiff filed his complaint for declaratory judgment, requesting that: (1) the court declare that, pursuant to the Department's Field Training Manual, plaintiff had a property right to request a change in FTO's; (2) plaintiff's resignation be rescinded on the ground that it was coercive and involuntary as the result of the denial of his property right to change FTOs; (3) plaintiff be reinstated to the probationary rank of a State Police trooper; and (4) the Department pay the plaintiff reasonable attorney fees and court costs. The trial court granted the Department's motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action without prejudice and, on October 9, 1987, plaintiff filed his amended complaint for declaratory judgment.

In his amended complaint, plaintiff added allegations that: (1) the Department's custom and practice to grant FTO changes had been verbally stated to him by Master/Sergeant Hall at one of the academy sessions; (2) the custom and practice had been implemented for five probationary officers; (3) the custom and practice together with the field training program's principal goal impose an obligation upon the Department; and (4) based upon the manual provisions and the custom and practice, plaintiff had a property right to such a change. The Department moved to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint on the ground that he had no property right to request and to be granted a change in FTOs. The trial court granted the Department's motion, stating:

"It is this Court's opinion that the provisions of the manual requiring a supervisor's discretion do not create a property right in this regard, nor has plaintiff effectively pleaded a case for a long standing custom and practice within the Department. He names five officers, presumably part of his class, who were granted changes of their F.T.O.'s, their field training officers. This is not sufficient to create a property right in the Plaintiff.

It is well established case law that a probationary police officer has no property right in his employment and I cite Sullivan v. Bd. of Police Commissioners, 103 Ill. App. 3d 167.

Accordingly this Court finds such an officer has no property right to challenge this Department's refusal to rescind his resignation.

The duties of a police officer are demanding and this Court cannot presuppose upon the Department's discretion in determining how best to test the mettle of a probationary officer.", Plaintiff's timely appeal followed.

The sole issue on appeal is whether the Department's Field Training Manual created a property right in plaintiff which entitled him to a change in FTOs. Plaintiff argues that the policy set forth on pages 22 and 23 of the Department's Field Training Manual (FTO Change Policy) plus the Department's custom and practice in implementing that policy ...


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