Texas TCOLE Appeal Attorney  / TCLEOSE Lawyer / Appeal of the F-5 / TCLEOSE Certification / Law Enforcement License / 

The Texas employment attorneys at the Tran Law Firm LLP represents law enforcement officers (police officer, constables, jailers and sheriff deputies) in terminations and demotion proceedings before Civil Service Commission panels and subsequent wrongful termination, First Amendment Rights and job discrimination lawsuits. What is unique about law enforcement officers that are removed from their positions at law enforcement agencies is that their Texas peace officer license may be in jeopardy.

What is TCLEOSE certification?

In order to become licensed as a peace officer or county jailer in Texas, you must be licensed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE).  If you are an out of state law enforcement officer that is seeking a peace officer job in Texas, you will need to be The Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) certified.

What is an F-5 have to do with a Career in Texas Law Enforcement?
The head of a law enforcement agency is required to file an F-5 Report with TCOLE when the agency terminates the employment of a Texas TCLEOSE licensee (police officer, deputy sheriff, jailer, incarceration officer, etc.). The F-5 Report must classify the circumstances under which the licensee separated from the agency by stating whether the licensee was honorably discharged, generally discharged, or dishonorably discharged.  The terms “honorably discharged,” “generally discharged,” and “dishonorably discharged” are defined as follows:

(1) “Honorably discharged” means a license holder who, while in good standing and not because of pending or final disciplinary actions or a documented performance problem, retired, resigned, or separated from employment with or died while employed by a law enforcement agency.

(2) “Generally discharged” means a license holder who:

(A) was terminated by, retired or resigned from, or died while in the employ of a law enforcement agency and the separation was related to a disciplinary investigation of conduct that is not included in the definition of dishonorably discharged; or

(B) was terminated by or retired or resigned from a law enforcement agency and the separation was for a documented performance problem and was not because of a reduction in workforce or an at will employment decision.

(3) “Dishonorably discharged” means a license holder who:

(A) was terminated by a law enforcement agency or retired or resigned in lieu of termination by the agency in relation to allegations of criminal misconduct; or

(B) was terminated by a law enforcement agency or retired or resigned in lieu of termination by the agency for insubordination or untruthfulness.

The fact that the head of the law enforcement agency submits the F-5 report and that the report is an official government document carries a lot of weight.  A negative and incorrect F-5 report can negatively affect a Texas peace officer’s career. Peace officers with a bad F-5 report may find it difficult to transfer to another department or agency.  Many law enforcement agencies will not hire a sheriff deputy, constable, or police officer with a negative F-5.

Why you should be concerned if you are separated from employment with a law enforcement agency and was given a dishonorable discharge.

If an officer is given a dishonorable discharge, the law enforcement agency which formerly employed him will send a written report of the dishonorable discharge to TCOLE, which will proceed to suspend or revoke the TCLEOSE certification.  The written report is called a Notice of Separation, also known as a form F-5.  The F-5 forms says ” Failure to timely appeal a second dishonorable discharge with a “Petition to Correct” form will result in the revocation of your license. “

This means that an agency which fires an officer under a dishonorable discharge may effectively fired the employee from all law enforcement service in Texas, unless the report of the dishonorable discharge is amended.

What can you do if you are terminated or separated and given a F-5 with a dishonorably discharged notation?

You can appeal the F-5 but you have to do it timely and correctly.  The F-5 appeal does not alleviate the officer’s obligation to appeal the termination through Civil Service Commmission.

How does an F-5 appeal work?

You can contest the information in an F-5 Report by submitting a written petition for correction of the report to both TCOLE and the issuing law enforcement agency. When TCLOLE receives your petition, TCOLE is required to refer the matter directly to SOAH for a contested case hearing under a set of rules called the Administrative Procedure Act.  It is like a mini-lawsuit, with discovery and depositions.  At the hearing, the chief administrative officer of the law enforcement agency has the burden of proof to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the alleged misconduct occurred.  The law enforcement officer is permitted to present evidence and witnesses to support his or her case.

Following the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issues a final order on the petition; if the alleged misconduct is not supported by a preponderance of the evidence, the ALJ shall order the report to be changed.  A successful petition to correct an F-5 report will enable an officer to maintain her or his TCLEOSE certification.

If you need help.

The Texas employment attorneys at the Tran Law Firm LLP has over 15 years experience in representing police officers, sheriff deputies, and jailers.  The employment lawyers at the firm can represent a police officer, deputy, and jailer fight a termination through Civil Service Commission at the same time a notice of removal (F-5) appeal is taking place.