Decision to be made in 10 days on suspended police officer’s pay|[11/19/05]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 19, 2005

A police officer the city suspended after learning he had complained of blackout spells at work argued Friday for reinstatement of back pay and leave time.

During a six-hour Civil Service Commission appeal hearing Friday, veteran patrolman Rudolph Walker said he should be compensated for about 3 1/2 months of personal and sick leave he had used during his suspension, which ended in September.

The chairman of the commission, Joe Graham, said the three member panel – which can uphold, reverse or modify city personnel decisions involving police and firefighters – will make a decision in Walker’s case in 10 days.

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Walker was suspened by the city on June 2 after he failed to comply with Police Chief Tommy Moffett’s request for a medical opinion on the blackouts Walker had said he had been experiencing since February or March. Walker has diabetes and was, at the time, working night shift – 11 p.m. until 7 a.m.

Richard Dean, Walker’s attorney, argued Friday that letters provided by Walker’s physician, Dr. Joseph Wilson, complied with the city’s request.

Wilson said in a letter and in Friday’s testimony that Walker may have been able to manage his diabetes more effectively if he had been working day shift.

City attorney Walterine Langford argued that Wilson had declined to directly address whether Walker was having blackouts. The city requested and paid for a second opinion from a diabetes specialist – University Medical Center professor emeritus William Nicholas – who testified he did not believe the episodes Walker described as blackouts were caused by diabetes.

After hearing that, Moffett reinstated Walker. He returned to work Sept. 15 and now works evening shift – 3 until 11 p.m.

Walker told the commission Friday he had not received a paycheck from Aug. 26 until he returned to work in September and that he had used about 400 hours of sick and personal leave during his suspension. His lawyer, Dean, argued that the Vicksburg Police Department could have easily found a way to accommodate Walker’s desire to be reassigned to a different shift.

&#8220They could’ve done anything they wanted to do but they chose to send me home,” Walker said.

Walker was reassigned to non-patrol duty about two weeks before he was suspended.

Walker also serves as Warren County’s Central District Constable, a fee-based job that he said takes him about 12 to 15 hours a week in addition to his 40-hour-a-week patrol job. He said politics played a role in the way he has been treated.

Moffett said, &#8220We’re here today because we did not get a response. The only time I got a clear medical response” about the blackouts was from Nicholas.