Council to take up action tonight
One of two Minden Police Officers embroiled in a social media controversy made an appearance before the City of Minden Personnel Committee Monday, only to have the item passed off to the Minden City Council. Minden Police Officer Shawn Griffith was in attendance, along with his attorney, Pamela Breedlove.
“We have talked to the city attorney, and in light of the fact that City Council is very involved in this already, my recommendation as chairperson is to pass this directly to the City Council without going through this again today and again tonight,” said Personnel Committee Chairman Brent Cooley.
Prior to any action, the committee offered Griffith the opportunity to make a presentation. Breedlove spoke to the committee on behalf of her client. “You are giving him the opportunity to present whatever he wants without him ever receiving a complaint, or investigation, or anything else like that?” she asked. “I think we all are aware (in the public) of these things that were placed on Facebook many years ago, they were not placed on Facebook, which are fake.”
Breedlove said she is recommending her client not say anything at this point.
“It is hard for him to respond to anything without anyone telling him, ‘Here is what we want you to tell us about. Here’s what we think. Here’s what we’re doing,’” Breedlove said. “That’s not how due process works.”
Griffith’s status as a police officer was questioned by the committee. Some said he was currently in a probationary period, an assertion Breedlove disputed.
“He cannot still be on probation because, as a matter of law, he already had the formal training by the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office long before he came to the Minden Police Department, which under 33:24:95 and 33:24:95.1 means his working test period started the day he started employment with the department,” she said. “And, as a matter of law, when a year lapsed, he became certified (under civil service.)”
The committee asked Minden Chief of Police Steve Cropper for clarification on Griffith’s status.
“Shawn was hired February of 2018. He was appointed by Civil Service Aug. 6 of 2018,” Cropper said. “The delay between his hire date and appointment by Civil Service was because he had to go back through a re-certifier, POST recertification, so his appointment didn’t go into effect until the day he was POST certified again.”
Breedlove contered Cropper’s assessment, saying that civil service law differed. “That doesn’t change the fact that he has had the formal training to be POST certified, and his working test period started the date he was hired, by law,” she said.
The committee asked multiple times of the whereabouts of City Attorney Charles Minnifield. “We thought he was going to be here,” Cooley said.
Shawn, and his brother Shane Griffith came under fire after several in the community received screenshots of Facebook posts depicting racist images and sentiments, allegedly attributed to them. Both officers were asked to resign by Cropper and subsequently placed on administrative leave with pay last week.
“Mayor Terry Gardner will be asking for a motion to amend the printed agenda to add: Personnel – Disciplinary Action,” said Wanda Pittman, the Mayor’s Secretary.
“Officer Griffith will be given the opportunity to be heard in open session or executive session. It will be acted on tonight, first thing on the agenda,” Pittman said.