Bay must re-hire dismissed detective
By Dwayne Bremer
Dec 10, 2013, 21:25
Nearly a year after first hearing the case, the Bay St. Louis Civil Service Commission last week ordered the city to rehire police detective Joe Kepfer.
Kepfer, a 22-year veteran at BPD, was terminated last April in the wake of the Maurice Colley murder investigation.
City officials have said the reason for Kepfer's termination was because he allegedly mis-represented evidence to a city judge in order to obtain warrants to arrest suspects in the Colley case.
Two people were arrested after Kepfer obtained the records and it was later determined that neither individual had anything to do with the case.
After he was terminated, Kepfer appealed the decision to the city's civil service board and also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Kepfer appealed his termination to the civil service commission and he has since filed a federal lawsuit claiming his firing was a result of age discrimination.
The commission's ruling, released Friday, ordered the city to rehire Kepfer, but at at the lower rank of patrolman.
Kepfer's request for back-pay and medical benefits were denied.
The commission concluded that the city had a right to discipline Kepfer for his actions, but that terminating him was a "disproportionate penalty."
The commission cited Kepfer's long service with the city and virtually clean employment record as a reason for not upholding the termination. The ruling means Kepfer can be reinstated immediately, even if one of the two parties appeals the decision.
Under state statute, the city and Kepfer both have 30 days to appeal the decision to Hancock County Circuit Court.
"The city will abide by the ruling of the commission," Bay City Attorney Donald Rafferty said Friday. "We are also looking at all options, including an appeal."
Likewise, Kepfer's attorney, Rusty Gill of Biloxi, said Tuesday he and Kepfer will be discussing which direction they want to take going forward.