Peace Officer License Of Reserve Deputy Sheriff Properly Revoked

Written on 02/03/2024

Lawrence Ciesemier is a physician and professor who purchased a 160-acre property in Adair County, Missouri, in 2017. In the year after purchasing and moving to the property, he and his wife were disturbed by coyote hunters on multiple occasions. Hunters allowed their dogs to roam the property, and they sometimes discharged their firearms near their home. Ciesemier was also a licensed peace officer since 2008, and a reserve deputy sheriff of the Adair County Sheriff’s Department since 2010.

On November 24, 2018, Ciesemier noticed three hunting dogs on his property. He removed electronic tracking collars from two of the dogs and smashed one of the collars with a hammer. When a hunter arrived looking for his dogs, Ciesemier told him to leave his property. Shortly thereafter, he was investigated by the Adair County Sheriff’s Department for the incident.

Ciesemier told the investigator that he only removed one of the collars so that he could talk with the owner and denied destroying or removing the second collar. The Director of the Department of Public Safety chose to discipline Ciesemier. Since Ciesemier admitted to the misconduct, the Director presided over a hearing to determine the appropriate discipline.

At the hearing, Ciesemier testified that he did not report his problems with coyote hunters in the year pre-ceding the incident, that he lied to the investigating deputy sheriff when he said he only removed one of the collars, that he reimbursed the owner for the value of the destroyed collar, and that he knew it was wrong to destroy the collar but was frustrated and fearful for his family’s safety as a result of the hunters firing their guns so close to his home. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Director spoke briefly to Ciesemier about the importance of coyote hunters in rural areas. Based on the evidence at the hearing, the Director chose to revoke Ciesemier’s peace officer license. Ciesemier appealed this decision, unsuccessfully, to the trial court, and appealed again to the Missouri Court of Appeals.

The Court affirmed, finding that it had no basis for reversing the Di-rector’s decision to revoke Ciesemier’s peace officer license. Given Ciesemier’s admissions that he committed several property crimes, and the lack of compelling mitigating circumstances, the Director was within his discretion to revoke the license. The Court also rejected Ciesemier’s argument that the Director was biased in favor of coyote hunters, based on his statements at the hearing. Ciesemier’s allegation of bias was based on three sentences spoken by the Director, which was simply too little to prove a disqualifying bias.

Ciesemier v. Director of Dep’t of Pub. Safety, 673 S.W.3d 877 (Mo. Ct. App.).