Bay P.D. rehires former detective
By Dwayne Bremer
Jan 7, 2014, 17:33
Both the city of Bay St. Louis and former BPD Detective Joe Kepfer have appealed a recent decision by the city's civil service commission last month which ordered Kepfer be rehired at a lower rank.
Kepfer, a longtime law enforcement veteran, was fired in March 2012 after he allegedly misrepresented information to a judge to obtain arrest warrants in the Maurice Colly murder case.
After a lengthy appeal to the city's civil service commission, Kepfer won a partial victory last month, when the commission ruled he should not have been fired.
The commission ordered the city to rehire Kepfer, but at the lower rank of patrolman.
Kepfer's request for back-pay and medical benefits were denied.
The commission said 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.
Last Friday, Kepfer filed an appeal of the commission's ruling, saying the decision to demote him was "arbitrary, capricious, and beyond the scope of power granted by the commission."
In addition to disagreeing with the commission's decision, Kepfer's attorney, Rusty Gill of Biloxi, said his client disagrees with being reinstated as an animal control officer rather than as a patrol officer, which was directed by the commission.
Bay St. Louis City Attorney Donald Rafferty said Tuesday that Kepfer was rehired at patrol officer pay, but assigned to the animal control position because it was the "only thing available" and the time.
On Monday, the city filed a cross-appeal of the commission's decision in Hancock County Circuit Court. Rafferty said the city feels the commission only had the right to uphold the termination or reverse it. He said the decision to modify the city's discipline was unwarranted.
According to a local-private law passed in 1989, the civil service commission has the authority to uphold or reverse a decision by the city, but not to modify it, Rafferty said.
There is no time table for either Kepfer's or the city's appeal to be heard in circuit court. Meanwhile, it appears Kepfer will begin serving as the city's animal control officer.
Kepfer declined comment about his employment situation and forwarded all questions to Gill.
On Monday, Kepfer was seen riding alongside city Animal Control Officer Dorty Necaise.