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Police Officers, Supervisors At Odds Over Disciplinary Records

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Police Benevolent Association believes officers need more rights to appeal when they are disciplined at work, but chiefs and sheriffs say the proposal would compromise their authority.

Raleigh Police Detective Randy Miller believes he lost out on promotions because he had a personality conflict with a former supervisor. He said he was not given a chance to challenge the paper trail built against him.

"It was fraudalent information used. Those documents were placed in my personnel file and were not discovered for almost 10 years," Miller said. "You can't keep eroding the rights away from police officers and expect them to want to do the job."

Officers claim tainted records can unfairly sabotage careers. On the other hand, some cops with questionable records stay under the radar.

In 1997, N.C. State officer

Pierre Debnam

was charged with sexual misconduct. Court records show he left the Raleigh Police Department years earlier after similar allegations. In 1998, Crabtree Valley Mall officer Donnie White was accused of statutory rape. He got the job despite resigning from the Rich Square Police Department for related complaints.

"Unfortunately, it's getting tougher and tougher for us when we do background investigations because of the liability involved," said Cary Police Chief Windy Hunter.

Hunter said prolonging disciplinary appeals would create unnecessary bureacracy and could protect bad cops.

"You hate to let folks go or take any disciplinary action, but at times that becomes necessary and anything that handcuffs us in that area, we will certainly not be in favor of," Hunter said.

The law enforcment discipline bill died in a Senate committee Thursday night. Officers plan to try again in the next legislative session.