Using Civil Service Rules to Discipline

Officer John Abel

If you’ve been following my articles in Vegas Beat, you know that I often focus on LVMPD disciplinary trends and practices. It appears that some LVMPD captains are using Civil Service rules as a form of discipline for probationary police officers as well as tenured police officers.

Civil Service rules allow LVMPD the ability to extend probation for a probationary police officer for six months without a formal reason, and it is not an issue that the LVPPA can help an officer file a formal grievance for. Civil Service rules also allow LVMPD the ability to withhold an officer’s yearly merit increase, which is another issue that the LVPPA cannot help an officer file a grievance for. These two Civil Service rules are not grievance issues covered under the collective bargaining agreement. The only option the LVPPA has is to take complaints to the Civil Service Board, but LVMPD has lobbied the County Commission to assign board positions to those who are favorable to LVMPD causes, which stacks the deck in the Department’s favor.

Extending an officer’s probation or withholding a merit increase are supposed to be used in extenuating circumstances, such as an officer not meeting standards on a yearly evaluation or an officer who is on administrative leave for a disciplinary issue. Lately, however, it appears that captains are using these two Civil Service rules for lesser issues, such as an active open SOC or two minor Vehicle Collision Board sustainments. There are no set standards for a captain to extend probation or withhold a merit increase, which begs the question: would a captain take these actions for personal reasons due to the subjectiveness of the decisions? I will let you answer that question yourself. I do not like a captain — who makes double or triple the pay of what a new officer makes — using some arbitrary reason to withhold money from a new officer, especially when gasoline is currently at $4.11 a gallon and the cost of other everyday items are going up as well.

The decisions that captains are given the autonomy to make can have long-lasting effects on new officers who may be planning their family’s future, or who may be depending on pay raises to help afford a home or having children. Not to mention, it appears as if captains are using Civil Service rules to further discipline officers.

I am currently looking at ways to help fight these issues at the command staff level so that LVMPD relays to its captains that extending an officer’s probation or withholding a merit increase should be the exception and not the rule. If you have or know any other officer who has a grievance issue that you or they are on the fence about filing, please contact me by phone at (702) 468-0766 or by email at