|Legal Opinion: |
Text of Document: January 4, 2002
You have asked me whether the contract entered into by your City and a police officer for the reimbursement of training costs is enforceable. I only received the first page of the contract, but I believe it follows a form MTAS Senior Legal Consultant Sid Hemsley reviewed a few years ago for your City. If it does, and was executed by the appropriate officials, it appears the agreement is enforceable against the police officer.
There are no Tennessee cases on the question of whether cost-of-training agreements between cities and police officers are enforceable. However, such contracts have become increasingly common in states and cities across the country. Florida and Georgia have reported cases directly addressing the enforcement of these contracts.
In City of Pembroke v. Hagin, 391 S.E.2d 465 (Ga. App. 1990), the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld a cost-of-training agreement requiring the officer to reimburse the City the amount stated in the contract as representing “a portion of the total expense of the Police Officer’s attending the [training program]” after the officer voluntarily terminated his employment before the twelve-month period expired.
The contract at issue in South Miami v. Dembinski, 423 So.2d 988 (Fla. App. 1982), contained no exact dollar amount for the training, but was left open-ended. The Florida Court of Appeals still upheld the agreement and found it to be enforceable against the employee.
I have enclosed a copy of an article prepared by Sid Hemsley on this issue. He opines that such agreements are enforceable in Tennessee. Sid does suggest that agreements be drafted so as to provide for reimbursement on a pro-rated basis rather than for the entire cost of the training.
As the police officer left his employment before the expiration of the two-year term he agreed upon, it is our combined opinion that the contract can be enforced against him for reimbursement of the cost of his training.
I hope this information is helpful. Please feel free to call me if you have any further questions.
Melissa A. Ashburn