Terminated – Police Officer Willie Hawkins (left) was fired by the council at the request of Police Chief Ricky Martin for producing inadequate reports.(Karl Jeter)
SM police officer fired
The decision was made to terminate a city police officer last Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the request of Chief Ricky Martin.
A special meeting of the council was called to consider the chief’s request to terminate the employment of Willie Hawkins for a number of causes, mainly his inability to produce acceptable written incident and arrest reports.
The issue was taken up in open session after Hawkins turned down the option of having the case handled in private. He requested a delay in the hearing to allow him to have an attorney present.
The hearing continued, however, because the action was being taken during the officer’s year-long probationary period. As explained by Martin and backed up by city attorney Allan Durand, Civil Service rules allowing legal representation do not apply during the one-year probation. An attorney may be present, Durand explained, but the rules do not require it, and whether an attorney is allowed to testify is up to the council.
Martin said Hawkins was given a 30-day period to improve his reports, but serious faults continue and “have only gotten worse,” he said. He presented more than 22 reports, some involving serious crimes, that had to be returned to the officer unsuccessfully, some numerous times, for rewriting.
Martin added that, in one instance, Hawkins had named an offender in his report when it was actually that man’s son who was the alleged offender, he has recorded a complainant as the suspect and had once asked a suspect what offense he was being charged with, Martin said.
Public Information Officer Adam Touchet told the Teche News, “It’s not something you see on the police shows, but paperwork is the foundation of police work. Officer reports are an essential part of the evidence presented to courts when offenders are prosecuted. They have to be factually correct and reflect good police procedures.”
Touchet commented that the department is considering including more instruction in writing skills as a part of regular police officer training.
Hawkins has been in law-enforcement for 15 years, was trained at an accredited training academy and is POST certified.
A second case, involving patrol officer Tyron Jones, was heard in executive session, but was tabled until next month at the recommendation of the attorney Durand.
•The hiring of a heavy equipment mechanic was approved. Louis Creed recently moved to the area from Iowa and has experience in municipal and county public works. Superintendent Brian Touchet said told the council Creed also has experience working on police vehicles.
•Baton Rouge accounting firm Faulk and Winkler will remain on retainer to complete the work of helping bring the city’s accounts into good order.