McCallister v. Priest

Decision Date08 January 1968
Docket NumberNo. 52686,52686
PartiesOla P. McCALLISTER, (Plaintiff) Appellant, v. H. Sam PRIEST, Kenneth Teasdale, Alphonse G. Eberle, Russell Dearmont and Raymond R. Tucker, as Members of the Board of Police Commissioners of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, (Defendants) Respondents.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Orville Richardson, St. Louis, and Corinne R. Goodman, University City, for plaintiff-appellant.

Thomas F. McGuire, City Counselor, Eugene P. Freeman, Associate City Counselor, St. Louis, for defendant-respondents.

FINCH, Presiding Judge.

This is a proceeding brought under the Administrative Procedure and Review Act, Chapter 536 (all statutory references are to RSMo 1959, V.A.M.S., unless otherwise indicated) to review an order of the Board of Police Commissioners of the City of St. Louis (herein usually referred to as Board). This proceeding is a contested case before an agency within the terms of Chapter 536 and is reviewable under said act. Scism v. Long, Mo.App., 280 S.W.2d 481.

Appellant, a Major in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, was suspended as North Area Commander by his commanding officer on February 6, 1964. 1 A written charge of general inefficiency as North Area Commander in violation of Rule 15, Section 2 of the St. Louis Police Manual, amplified by seven more detailed specifications, was filed by the Chief of Police before the Board. Appellant pleaded not guilty thereto. After a hearing, the Board found appellant guilty of general inefficiency and dismissed him from the Police Force, effective December 14, 1964. Pursuant to Chapter 536, he filed a petition for review in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. The Circuit Court on December 9, 1966, affirmed and appellant has appealed to this court. We have jurisdiction because appellant asserts various constitutional questions, including a claim that both Rule 15, Section 2 of the Police Manual and § 84.170(2), which authorizes such rules, are unconstitutional under the due process clauses of the Federal and State Constitutions. Rose v. State Board of Registration for Healing Arts. Mo., 397 S.W.2d 570.

One of the specifications detailing the charge against appellant was dismissed before the hearing. The other six specifications are lengthy and somewhat repetitious but may be summarized as follows: Despite instructions received, appellant failed to take effective measures to bring about more effective patrol and police activity in his area. He failed to establish and maintain an adequate and effective line inspection system, in spite of orders so to do, with the result that line inspections in his area were ineffective to detect improper performance of duty by personnel under his supervision. He made no effective suggestions or recommendations of changes which would improve performance, he expressed satisfaction with the performance of all personnel, and he failed to recommend changes in personnel who were inefficient. Thereby he demonstrated his unwillingness or inability to carry out the duties of his rank and command.

The hearing in this case was lengthy. Testimony was taken on 23 days and arguments heard on another day. The transcript consists of approximately 2200 typewritten pages and there are approximately 150 exhibits. The Police Board made 36 findings of fact. It would serve no useful purpose for us in this opinion to undertake to recite all of the evidence, and we do not propose to do so. We state testimony received only insofar as necessary to this decision.

The Bureau of Filed Operations consists of approximately eighty per cent of the uniformed force of the Police Department. It actively patrols the entire city. It is commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel. The city is divided into the North and South georgraphic areas, each commanded by a Major. Appellant was the commanding officer of the North Area and was directly accountable to the Chief of the Bureau of Field Operations. Under each Major were various Captains, Lieutenants, Sergeants and Patrolmen in a military type organization.

In November, 1962, the Chief of Police, pursuant to a decision by the Police Board, ordered a reorganization in which a Division of Field Inspections was established in the Bureau of Inspections. it was charged with making objective functional inspections of the work of the Bureau of Field Operations and making reports thereon directly to the Chief of Police. In the past, inspectors of the Bureau of Inspections had undertaken to correct deficiencies in work of members of the Bureau of Field Operations which they observed in making their inspections. Under the new system, such inspectors were instructed that they were to act as purely staff inspectors and were to take no corrective action. At the same time, the Chief of Police ordered the Bureau of Field Operations to institute a line inspection system to discover, correct and report on operational deficiencies in the Bureau. Appellant was ordered to do this in his North Area Command. Field Operations Area Commanders received periodic summaries which disclosed the results of inspections by staff inspectors, but these disclosed only the inspections made and deficiencies observed without giving names and places. Occasionally, to substantiate the validity of the method used by staff inspectors, Majors were given the names of particular officers involved but were instructed specifically that such information was not to be used for disciplinary purposes. Appellant was told that it was his responsibility as Field Operations Commander of the North Area to seek out deficiencies by their line inspection system (Captains of Lieutenants, Lieutenants of Sergeants, Sergeants of Patrolmen) and to see that necessary instruction and discipline were provided and proper reporting made.

Witnesses in support of the charges against appellant testified that he was skeptical of this new system. He felt that staff inspectors should correct deficiencies observed, or that the details of the inspections, including names of persons involved, should be furnished to the Area Commander.

In order to acquaint Bureau of Operations personnel with the new staff inspection system and to assist them in establishment and operation of a line inspection system, a 'Coordinated Field Inspection Training Program' was instituted early in 1963 and continued until August of that year. Approximately one-half of the officers of the Bureau of Operations rode with inspectors during this period. Appellant rode in the training program for approximately one week. Reports of the Bureau of Field Operations officers riding on detached service were available to appellant. The deficiencies observed by such Field Operations personnel while riding on detached service approximated those reported by staff inspectors.

Chief Brostron and Lieutenant Colonel Shea (Chief of Field Operations and appellant's immediate superior) testified that appellant did not establish an effective line inspection system. Inspections and deficiencies reported by the North Area Command were substantially fewer than those reported for the area by staff inspectors to the Chief of Police. When Shea discussed these matters with appellant, he reported that he and his officers were not finding all of the deficiencies reported by staff inspectors and that his personnel were all efficient and doing a good job. Shea and Brostron testified to frequent conferences with and orders to appellant on this subject, but without noticeable change or improvement in 1963 or prior to his suspension on February 6, 1964. In late August, Shea suggested that appellant voluntarily step down to Captain, and shortly thereafter Chief Brostron suggested to appellant that the job might be too big for him.

Examples of deficiencies reported included such things as changing location without notifying the dispatcher, officer not at location reported, not performing duty stated, substandard handling of assignments, etc. The witnesses testified that such instances caused the Department not to have control over and full use of the Police Force, and hence not to have the benefit of full utilization of the personnel in combating increasing crime. For example, a practice repeatedly found to be occurring by inspectors was the calling out of service for a 'building check,' i.e., security investigation, but rather than trying doors, etc., the patrolman would remain in the car and flash his cruiser spotlight on the buildings as he drove by. Use of the light in this manner is not in itself wrong or against proper procedure while in cruising patrol. It is wrong when the duty announced as being performed is 'buildings checks.' The result of this practice is loss of control of the patrolman, overloading patrolmen in adjacent patrol areas, and lessening of effective service service coverage of the combined patrol areas.

The Board found, as a basis for its order of dismissal, that appellant failed to bring about and maintain an effective line inspection system, that operational deficiencies in his command continued without improvement, and that appellant, as a result, displayed an inability to effectively command the North Area.

The Police Department for the City of St. Louis is established by the provisions of Chapter 84. The Board consists of the Mayor and four persons appointed by the Governor of Missouri. § 84.020. Members of the Police Force are appointed by the Board. § 84.100. Qualifications of members of the Police Force are provided by § 84.120. That section then provides as follows: 'The patrolmen and turnkeys hereafter appointed shall serve while they shall faithfully perform their duties and possess mental and physical ability and be subject to removal only for cause after hearing by the boards, who are hereby invested with the exclusive jurisdiction in the premises.'

The table of organization for the St. Louis Police Force, specifying various authorized ranks...

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