As we are in the midst of the political season around the state, most of us are enjoying the freedom to voice our opinions to support the candidate of our choosing on the municipal, parish, state, and federal levels. Unfortunately, those who serve us, who are governed by the Louisiana Municipal Police and Fire Civil Service, do not enjoy the same right. Under Louisiana Revised Statutes 33:2504 Louisiana Municipal Police and Fire Civil Service employees are governed as follows:
A. Political activities by and extending to employees of the classified service are hereby prohibited as follows:
1. No person shall seek or attempt to use any political endorsement in connection with any appointment to a position in the classified service.
2. No person shall use or promise to use, directly or indirectly, any official authority or influence, whether possessed or anticipated, to secure or attempt to secure for any person an appointment or advantage in appointment to a position in the classified service, or an increase in pay or other advantage in employment in any such position, for the purpose of influencing the vote or political action of any person, or for any consideration.
3. No employee in the classified service shall, directly or indirectly, pay, or promise to pay, any assessment, subscription, or contribution for any political organization or purpose, or solicit or take part in soliciting any such assessment, subscription, or contribution. No person shall solicit any such assessment, subscription, or contribution of any employee in classified service. The prohibitions of this Sub-section shall not be construed as applying to membership dues paid, or contributions made, to non-political employee organizations, pension funds, civic enterprises, the Louisiana Civil Service League or any similar non-political and non-partisan organization.
Many, I would venture to say most people, do not realize that police and fire employees are forced to give up their freedom of speech prohibiting them from publicly supporting their candidates. You may ask, what happens if they publicly support a candidate or violate one of the above mentioned laws. Simple, they SHALL be discharged.
L.R.S. 2504 (B) states: The appointing authority shall discharge from the service any
employee whom he deems guilty of violating any one or more of the provisions of this Section. The board may, upon its own initiative, investigate any officer or employee in the classified service whom it reasonably believes guilty of violating any one or more of the provisions. Any citizen,taxpayer, municipal officer, or employee may file with the board detailed charges in writing against any employee in the classified service for violating any one or more of the provisions of this Section. The board shall, within thirty days after receiving the written charges, hold a public hearing and investigation and determine whether such charges are true and correct. If the board should find upon its investigation of any employee that he has violated any of the foregoing provisions, the board shall order the appointing authority to forthwith discharge the guilty employee from the service and the appointing authority shall forthwith discharge the employee.
In my opinion, this is one law that one day needs to be repealed. We ask these men and women to place their lives on the line for us, and yet we strip them of their voice, their voice of the 1st Amendment right to Freedom of Speech! So in this political season, more like a political arena, please take the time to thank the men and women of our municipal fire and police departments, not only for the service and protections they provide us, but also for all of the sacrifices they have made for us.