View Full Version : Does a LEO automatically lose his job ...

05-08-2009, 12:37 PM
... Once he is convicted or accepts a plea deal for a crime?

Just wondering about the Santa Clara sheriff's deputy who said he fell asleep at the wheel of his patrol car last year. His car crossed the DY and killed two competitive bicycle riders. Today he accepted a plea deal for two counts of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. Since the accident, he has been on paid administrative leave.
James Council, who originally pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to go on trial Monday, reached a deal this morning, according to Amy Cornell, a spokeswoman with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Council will be sentenced to four months in county jail and 800 hours of community service, according to Cornell. He will also be placed on three years' formal probation, ordered to pay restitution to the victims' families and standard fines and fees.
San Jose Mercury News (http://www.mercurynews.com/topstories/ci_12326768?nclick_check=1)

05-08-2009, 12:58 PM
there is a good chance that he will be encouraged to "retire" from the department. Conduct unbecoming a peace officer is grounds for termination in most departments. It is really up to the department to decide if he can stay on or go. The situation you mentioned could be grounds for a conduct unbecoming case.

The law is strict and states that a Felon may not be a peace officer, but misdemeaners may not require an officer be fired. The chance is there. If the department knows that they will fire him for what he did, they may encourage him to retire so he does not lose any benefits he may have already earned. I know a guy who was a peace officer that was part of a motorcycle club. Without him knowing it, one of the members of his group was carrying illegal narcotics accross the us border when they went on a weekend motorcycle run to mexico. Since they were all wearing the same motorcycle club jacket, the feds turned it in to a conspiracy case. This guy had no idea that the illegal contraband was on that person. Well, when his case looked like it was not winnable, he was encouraged to retire. He retired and was convicted of a felony so his law enforcement days are over. Hope that answers your question. stay safe

05-08-2009, 1:32 PM
Earlier this year Sac SD separated one of their deputies from the force. He was under suspicion for murdering a corrections officer. Took SSD like a week to fire him.

But that's a felony. So a misdemeanor carries as much weight regarding conduct unbecoming an officer? Makes sense. Still the gravity of Council's alleged falling asleep at the wheel is so huge. Since Santa Clara's Sheriff accepted responsibility for those bicyclists' death, I'm surprised they allowed Council to accept paid admin leave for more than a year. But then again, according to the SJ Mercury News article, SCSD knew he had a history of DUI.

As to that ex-LEO in that mc club ... I know one motor cop who says he pretty much vets the riders he rides with on his personal time. Since the stakes are so high, it makes sense for a cop to know the habits and attitudes of his friends.

Man, you guys can't be too careful about much of anything, huh?

Thanks for your answer, LtMike70.

05-08-2009, 10:10 PM
I think Deputy Council has maybe a year or two on the job so he's not going to be urged to retire. His actions behind the wheel and his actions post crash are going to cost the county a lot of money and I can't imagine they are going to be well disposed to giving him a disability pension because that's all he'd be eligible for.

He's going to be encouraged to resign and if he refuses to get with the program it's certain (IMO) that he'd eventually be fired, unless he has a much better rabbi than any of us know about or give him credit for.

Either way, his law enforcement career was done the instant his car hit those three bicyclists. He was reported by witnesses on scene to be saying exactly that.

I wish him well and hope he can get on with the rest of his life.

05-08-2009, 10:40 PM
Anyone else would be doing jail time for hitting those bicyclists, he should be to.

05-08-2009, 10:48 PM
Sounds like a absolutely terrible TERRIBLE deal that there is no winners...

05-08-2009, 11:09 PM
Dude you're tougher than judge judy. A year of paid vacation, four months of house arrest, and 800 hours community service doesn't sound like enough punishment for ending two lives and injuring another person?

Anyone else would be doing jail time for hitting those bicyclists, he should be to.

05-08-2009, 11:31 PM
Dude you're tougher than judge judy. A year of paid vacation, four months of house arrest, and 800 hours community service doesn't sound like enough punishment for ending two lives and injuring another person?

where did you get house arrest from?

05-08-2009, 11:46 PM
Two people are dead because of him, and many lives affected terribly by his actions. I wonder how the families of the victims feel about him being paid on administrative leave. Thats just vacation pay to the rest of us. (House arrest) it says nothing of that, im sure he's been enabling himself nicely while hes had the time off work.
Getting fired, oh how terrible a thought that could be, his life is really over now - NOT.
Jail time - the punishment should fit the crime, anything less is just insulting to the victims family.

05-08-2009, 11:49 PM
I guess it's not really house arrest it's "house arrest"
Santa Clara County prosecutor Ray Mendoza said the probation department will set the terms of his "house arrest," which could include permission to work.

05-08-2009, 11:51 PM
I guess it's not really house arrest it's "house arrest"

:) :)

05-09-2009, 12:15 AM
No it is not an automatic job loss....if it was a felony conviction it would be since he could not own/possess a firearm.

05-09-2009, 9:09 AM
I'm curious if anyone is more familiar with a case like this that has stiffer penalties? An accident where someone dies is not a crime. They had to prove negligence (which they did!) I'm not sure what the negligence was, but it was probably lack of sleep/sick/hungover. Misdemeanor conviction is a pretty stiff penalty and standard for the bay area. I don't believe there were drugs/alcohol/100+mph speeds.

05-12-2009, 7:41 AM
Anyone else would be doing jail time for hitting those bicyclists, he should be to.

What he got sounds like a typical plea bargain for a first time offender, regardless of his LE affiliation.

05-12-2009, 7:46 AM
FWIW most of the time judges go harder on LE when they are involved in crimes since they are expected to be held to a higher standard.

05-12-2009, 7:54 AM
The guy was tired. :sleeping: Give him a break. :patriot:He should not loose his job over it.:shrug:

05-12-2009, 11:28 PM
I met him once, and was not impressed. I know many of the SO deputies that work Cupertino (Cupertino has no police force, they hire the SO), and I like all of the other deputies I've had dealings with. They have been very helpful in cases at the large properties I have charge of, with mostly all of the incidents (copper theft, burglary, trespassing, etc.) happening since the meeting with Deputy Council. I felt like, but didn't, call his superior, because he was obviously new to the job and backed down from an obnoxious and ridiculous attitude, but suffice it to say, I didn't think he was getting off to a very good start in PR. But I can't take any satisfaction is he's gone from LE in this manner, since 2 lives were lost. Hopefully, everyone will get on with their lives.

06-04-2009, 7:28 PM
No job separation; instead, Council will be demoted.
As a sheriff's "technician,'' James "Tommy'' Council will not be permitted to carry a gun or drive a patrol car and will earn a maximum of about $55,600, instead of his current salary of $82,168. Technicians typically serve summons, provide unarmed court security and catalogue evidence.

Council's demotion by Sheriff Laurie Smith offered a modicum of bittersweet satisfaction to the slain cyclists' friends and relatives, who were incensed that the deputy won't serve time behind bars under a court-ordered deal.

"Keeping him behind the wheel in the sheriff's department would be a slap in the face to my daughter's memory,'' said Karen Clarkson, the mother of one of the victims, Olympic hopeful Kristy Gough. "I'm glad for the sake of public safety that he won't be.''

Council is set to be sentenced later this month on two misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter. He will be required to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet for four months, perform 20 weeks of community service and to pay restitution to the victims' families.
CoCo Times (http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_12524065?nclick_check=1)

06-04-2009, 7:41 PM
:rolleyes: that's some rough justice. I feel more sympathy for the BART cop than I do Council but he'll probably end up with harsher penalties.

06-04-2009, 7:49 PM
Council's attorney, Mike Rains, said Council hopes to eventually reapply for his job as a deputy.

Council chose to plead guilty, he said, to spare the victims' families a painful trial. There was a good case for acquittal, Rains contended, because Stanford Medical Center found that Council has mild sleep apnea that was exacerbated by a bad cold and fitful sleep the evening before the crash.

But Rains said Council will not exercise his right to appeal Smith's decision, calling it a "fair compromise.'

06-04-2009, 8:05 PM
I'm no lawyer but as I understand it, the law looks at intent. Council exhibited no malice. No malice = no vehicular gross negligence = no felony. Couple that with being a first-time offender/killer ... As someone who used to do a lot of road bicycling, including on the same road that the cyclists were killed, and who is now fat and happy to ride a motorcycle on South Bay roads, I dunno. I want justice for the dead. One day I may end up like them, killed by somebody who took his eyes off the road and then plowed into me from behind or the side.

But time and time again, the law gives drivers what amounts to a "slap on the wrist" for the unlawful vehicular killing of bicyclists and motorcyclists. It's not fair. But it is what it is. In this instance I would quote Dickens: "The law is a ***."

06-04-2009, 8:07 PM
I hear you Masa. I would've been happy with the same penalty you or I would've received for committing the same act. I don't feel what Council received is it.

06-04-2009, 8:12 PM
To the OP, PC15 baby!!! (the ole Academy Question) :D

06-04-2009, 8:32 PM
What a shame. Two dead and the officer gets a "minimal" sentence. I was frankly surprised by his agencies apparent stand to rehire him as a CSO or what ever.

The Officer messed up BIG TIME and two are dead. Nothing good comes from these accidents or situations. Regarding his Admin leave time off. Even Cops are entitled to due process. Just because they have been accused of a crime does not mean they are guilty. So since there has been no conviction there is usually no termination until a guilty verdict is reached.

Many time the officer can still be fired even after an innocent verdict due to violations of departmental policy's which are much stricter than criminal law.

That said, in a obvious crime situation the officer is usually fired when the D.A. files charges.

06-06-2009, 10:02 PM
He'll be paying for the rest of his life in one way or another. I know how it is, having worked double shifts back to back and almost falling asleep behind the wheel.

If you work 2-10's and then are forced to work 10-6, that ride home is no joke.

Employers really need to rethink their forced OT policy. I think that holding someone over for four hours is safer than the full eight.