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08/30/96 DARRELL COX v. SHERIFF'S MERIT COMMISSION

August 30, 1996

DARRELL COX, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
THE SHERIFF'S MERIT COMMISSION OF COLES COUNTY, ILLINOIS, SUSAN K. GAINES, CHAIRMAN, R. WAYNE MCCOY, WILLIAM HARRINGTON, LARRY COARTNEY AND CHARLES E. RAMSEY, MEMBERS OF THE COLES COUNTY SHERIFF'S MERIT COMMISSION, COUNTY OF COLES, ILLINOIS, COLES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT AND JAMES A. KIMBALL, SHERIFF OF COLES COUNTY, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Coles County. No. 95MR38. Honorable Paul C. Komada, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication October 2, 1996. As Corrected October 18, 1996.

Honorable James A. Knecht, J., Honorable Frederick S. Green, J. - Concur, Honorable Robert J. Steigmann, J. - Concur. Justice Knecht delivered the opinion of the court.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Knecht

JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, Darrell Cox, a sheriff's deputy in Coles County, was cited for a number of disciplinary charges stemming from an incident occurring while he was off duty on March 24, 1995. A hearing was conducted over several days by defendant, Coles County Sheriff's Merit Commission (the Commission), which concluded on June 26, 1995. The Commission demoted plaintiff from sergeant to patrol status and suspended him for 90 days. Plaintiff filed a complaint for administrative review pursuant to the Administrative Review Law (735 ILCS 5/3-101 et seq. (West 1992)). The circuit court reversed the Commission, finding all plaintiff's conduct was related to one incident of sick leave abuse. Defendants, Commission, County of Coles (County), Coles County sheriff's department, and James A. Kimball, sheriff of Coles County, appeal from the circuit court's decision. We reverse the judgment of the circuit court and reinstate that of the Commission.

After an internal investigation, Sheriff Kimball filed a complaint alleging plaintiff had violated the following rules and regulations of the sheriff's department:

SECTION IV ADMINISTRATIVE RULES & PROCEDURES

B. RULES OF CONDUCT

4. Unsatisfactory Performance

Officers shall be prohibited from unsatisfactory performance. *** Officers shall perform their duties in a manner which will maintain the highest standards of efficiency in carrying out the functions and objectives of the Department. Unsatisfactory performance may be demonstrated by a lack of knowledge of the application of laws required to be enforced; an unwillingness or inability to perform assigned tasks; the failure to conform to work standards established for the officer's rank, grade, or position.

8. On/Off Duty Conduct--Morale/Efficiency/Image/Public Confidence

An officer shall not engage in conduct, on or off duty, which adversely affects the morale or efficiency of the Department, or in the alternative, engage in conduct on, or off duty, which has a tendency to destroy public respect for the officer and/or the Department and/or destroy confidence in the operation of the Department. To this end, officers shall conduct themselves, at all times, in a manner which is in keeping with the highest standards of the law enforcement profession. ***

10. Neglect of Duty

An officer shall not neglect his duty. To this end, there shall be no failure to give suitable and prompt attention to the performance of one's duty. ***.

17. Truthfulness/Cooperation

An officer shall not testify, make reports or conduct police business in a less than truthful and/or cooperative manner. Officers are prohibited from intentionally making any materially false statements in connection with the performance of official duties.

22. The Consuming of Alcoholic Beverages or Controlled Substances

*** For purposes of clarification, no employee should consume any type of alcoholic beverage eight (8) hours prior to beginning a shift ***.

32. Abuse of Sick Leave

Departmental employees shall not abuse their authorized sick leave by applying for it needlessly. Sick leave will be justified when an employee is too ill to ...


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