§7-14-15. Political activities of members prohibited; exceptions.
(a) A deputy sheriff covered by the provisions of this article
(1) Solicit any assessment, subscription or contribution for any political party, committee or candidate from any person who is a member or employee of the county sheriff's department by which they are employed;
(2) Use any official authority or influence, including, but not limited to, the wearing by a deputy sheriff of his or her uniform, for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the nomination, election or defeat of any candidate or the passage or defeat of any ballot issue: Provided, That this subdivision shall not be construed to prohibit any deputy sheriff from casting his or her vote at any election while wearing his or her uniform;
(3) Coerce or command anyone to pay, lend or contribute anything of value to a party, committee, organization, agency or person for the nomination, election or defeat of a ballot issue; or
(4) Be a candidate for or hold any other public office in the county in which he or she is employed: Provided, That any deputy sheriff that is subject to the provisions of 5 U.S.C. §1501, et seq., may not be a candidate for elective office.
(b) Other types of partisan or nonpartisan political activities not inconsistent with the provisions of subsection (a) of this section are permissible political activities for deputy sheriffs.
(c) No person may be appointed or promoted to or demoted or dismissed from any position held by a deputy sheriff or in any way favored or discriminated against because of his or her engagement in any political activities authorized by the provisions of this section. Any elected or appointed official who violates the provisions of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by the penalties contained in section twenty-six, article fifteen, chapter eight of this code.
(d) Any deputy sheriff violating the provisions of this section shall have his appointment vacated and he shall be removed, in accordance with the pertinent provisions of this section.
(e) Any three residents of the county may file their written petition with the civil service commission thereof setting out therein the grounds upon which a deputy sheriff of such county should be removed for a violation of subsection (a) of this section.
Notice of the filing of such petition shall be given by the commission to the accused deputy, which notice shall require him to file a written answer to the charges set out in the petition within thirty days of the date of such notice. The petition and answer thereto, if any, shall be entered upon the records of the civil service commission.
If the answer is not filed within the time stated, or any extension thereof for cause which in the discretion of the civil service commission may be granted, an order shall be entered by the commission declaring the appointment of the deputy vacated.
If such answer is filed within the time stated, or any extension thereof for cause which in the discretion of the civil service commission may be granted, the accused deputy may demand within such period a public hearing on the charges, or the civil service commission may, in its discretion and without demand therefor, set a date and time for a public hearing on the charges, which hearing shall be within thirty days of the filing of said answer, subject, however, to any continuances which may in the discretion of the civil service commission be granted.
A written record of all testimony taken at such hearing shall be kept and preserved by the civil service commission, which record shall be sealed and not be open to public inspection if no appeal be taken from the action of the commission. The commission at the conclusion of the hearing, or as soon thereafter as possible, shall enter an order sustaining, in whole or in part, the charges made or shall dismiss the charges as unfounded. In the event the charges are sustained in whole or in part, the order shall also declare the appointment of such deputy to be vacated and thereupon the sheriff shall immediately remove the deputy from his office and from the payroll of the county. Notice of the action of the commission shall be given by registered letter to the county court and the sheriff. If the sheriff fails to immediately comply with the order of the commission, he shall be punished for contempt, upon application of the commission to the circuit court of the county.