Meridian Star

Local News

June 14, 2014

Civil service upholds Meadors’ firing

MERIDIAN —     A police officer terminated for posting material online considered by some to be offensive has been turned down by the Meridian Civil Service Commission for reinstatement.

    The commission issued its ruling on Friday afternoon, three days after a second hearing for Adam Meadors, who was let go in October.

    City Attorney Michael Goggans said the city was happy with the commission's ruling.

    "We are pleased that the Civil Service Commission has upheld the decision to terminate Adam Meadors for termination of the city's social media policy," Goggans. "We believe the Civil Service Commission came to the correct conclusion and we understand due process takes time."

    Meadors’ attorney, David Linder, could not be reached at press time.

    A copy of the ruling by the commissioners stated that it was confirming then Police Chief James Lee's termination of Meadors after an internal investigation showed that Meadors had admitted that he had posted the material.

    "Adam Meadors was a police officer of the city of Meridian," the ruling stated. "In October while on duty and during his mealtime he posted on his Facebook page a picture of two chimpanzees, which was captioned, "Earlier today — the mayor and the chief of police had a meeting."

    He added to the post, "Something will probably be said, but I couldn't resist."

    Meadors testified that he had taken the post down after about five minutes.

    "Meadors was aware that his expression might result in disciplinary action," the commission wrote in its findings. "However, he felt that Amendment 1 to the Constitution of the United States gave him the right to argue for a less severe discipline than termination."

    Meador's second hearing, which occurred Tuesday, was to introduce new evidence in which it was questioned whether Meador's post was ever posted on the Community Watch Facebook page.

    One of the site's administrators, Sidney Covington, testified during that hearing that she was 99 percent certain that the material had never been posted on the Community Watch page.

    Another point of contention was Meador's argument that because Mayor Percy Bland did not sign his termination papers, it was invalid.

    Linder cited a television interview in which Bland had stated that he was the chief executive, he was the administrative authority and that his department heads could act and make recommendations but that ultimately the issue had to come across his desk for signature.

    Saying it was "unpersuaded" by the argument that the termination was not valid, the commission said it recognizes that the statements made by public officials or political figures in news conferences are not law.

    "They do not bind or control those entities charged with enforcing law," the commission wrote.

    However, the commission recommended that if the mayor is not going to sign termination documents, the line with the word "mayor" underneath it should not be included.

    "It is suggested that the mayor designate individuals with the authority that he wishes them to possess in writing and that the forms used eliminate the mayor's name unless he intends to start signing them," the commission wrote.

    The commission also recommended that the city review its social media policy and it said it "expects that the testimony and evidence offered in hearings be properly investigated and reviewed."

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