Deputy chief seeks recertification

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Robert Hall returned to the police force as Tupelo’s deputy police chief Monday, but he still has to get recertified before he has full police powers.
Hall’s law enforcement certificate is currently inactive, according to Robert Davis, director of standards and training with the Office of Standards and Training.
The agency is responsible for ensuring that minimum standards of training and certification are met for police in Mississippi.
Davis said Hall’s certificate was mailed to Jackson after his resignation in 2006, and no other agency has applied for it.
The Tupelo Police Department has 30 days to apply for the certificate, according to a Department of Public Safety spokesperson. Police Chief Tony Carleton said the department has not requested Hall’s certificate but will do so before the deadline.
“Once the certification is applied for by the current employer,” said Jon Kalahar, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, “the officer will either have to go through more training to get recertified, or if there is something in the file to keep that person from getting it back then they’d have to appeal to the Board of Standards and Training,”
“Any officer out of service, for whatever reason, for more than two years has to apply for recertification and go through a training refresher course.”
Hall resigned from the department in 2007 after pleading guilty to two misdemeanors stemming from his release of a driver who was involved in a hit-and-run accident. His rehiring was announced in mid-March, and he officially began work on Monday. For now he can do office work, ride on patrols and more. But, the ability to make an arrest is off limits.
When an officer is hired, he or she has two years to complete the police academy to earn certification as a professional law enforcement officer. The certificate is then mailed to the department that person works for.
When that officer separates from the employer, the certificate is mailed back to the board in Jackson along with an explanation of why employment was ended.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said that’s when the road to recertification can get a little rocky.
Johnson is chairman of the Board of Standards and Training, which regulates the certification for law enforcement. He said that when the certificate is mailed back to the board, the employer has to state whether the person can be rehired.
“When the new employer requests the certificate, if it says the officer is subject to rehire, then it’s issued to the agency and the officer goes to work,” said Johnson. “But when an officer separates employment for a reason other than one of good standing, Standards and Training asks for reasons the officer would not be rehired. Then the staff there can deny the certificate, forcing the officer to go through an appeal process and that’s where our board comes in.”
Johnson said that in most cases in which the officer has been involved in criminal activity, the recertification will be denied.
After the board reviews the evidence and hears from the officer, it makes its decision. If the board denies the request, the case goes to chancery court where a judge will decide the matter.
When and if Hall does get recertified, he has two years to complete the refresher course at a police academy. Even though he can work for the full two years without his certificate, Johnson said Hall will not have full police powers.
“I can hire a deputy and let him work for two years before he gets certified, but there is a lot he can’t do from an enforcement standpoint,” said Johnson. “That officer would have to be restricted to non-enforcement duties.”

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.