- Police Department
- Departmental Policies (Partial Copy)
Departmental Policies (Partial Copy)
Policy 1.1 Mission, Values, and Written Directive System
Law enforcement agencies provide essential services to foster safe communities through crime reduction and deterrence. Administrators of these law enforcement agencies are obligated to train, supervise, and guide personnel in performing the variety of tasks which create safe communities. At the same time, these administrators seek to improve employees' confidence and competence in performing tasks while reducing vulnerability to liability. To meet these obligations, agencies must manage themselves according to written directives. A manual of policies and procedures guides the day-to-day legal and ethical functioning of a law enforcement agency. To that end, this manual furnishes a blueprint for the performance of this agency's activities in accordance with established state and national standards. Providing all members of the department with an understanding of the department's mission and values provides guidance for decision making when situations are not covered by direct policy or procedure.
This document outlines the organization of the Department, its Policy and Procedure Manual, its authority, and defines three kinds of statements that appear in these documents: policy, rule, and procedure. It also states the department's mission and core values.
III. AGENCY MISSION AND VALUES
The mission of the West Columbia Police Department is to effectively and efficiently provide for the protection of lives and property, preserve the public peace, and provide needed community services with the highest level of professionalism and ethical standards.
A. Core Values
Integrity: The West Columbia Police Department is built upon a foundation of ethical and professional conduct. We are committed to the highest level of moral principles and ethics. All members of the department will adhere to the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics which is a part of this manual.
Honesty: We will be truthful and trustworthy at all times.
Fairness: We are committed to equal application of the law to offenders and members of the public as well as the equal application of rules and regulations to all members of the department.
Courage: We are dedicated to meeting all challenges with the courage needed to accomplish our mission.
Compassion: We understand our role as community caretakers, and temper our application of the law with compassion and empathy.
1. A policy is a statement of the department's philosophy on a given issue. Policy consists of principles and values which guide the performance of department employees. Further, policy is based upon ethics, experience, the law, and the needs of the community.
2. Each section of the Manual will begin with an agency policy statement.
3. Only the Chief of Police determines policy.
1. A rule is a specific prohibition or requirement governing the behavior of employees.
2. Rules permit little, if any, deviation. Violations of rules normally result in discipline.
3. Rules appear in the Policy and Procedure Manual as well as other departmental documents.
1. A procedure defines the acceptable method of performing an operation or activity. It differs from policy in that it directs employees' actions in performing specific tasks in a prescribed manner within the guidelines of policy.
2. Unlike rules, a failure to follow a procedure may result in discipline. Procedures constitute the agency-approved guide to performing tasks. Employees may depart from procedures only when, in their professional judgment, the situation warrants. Employees must be prepared to justify their actions in not following the defined procedure.
1. A memorandum provides useful, specific information to employees and may constitute a directive affecting specific behavior for a specific event or period of time, and is usually self-canceling.
2. Memoranda are not part of this manual. Memoranda may be issued by the Chief of Police or by other personnel or agencies. However, memoranda may be incorporated into future editions of this manual. Employees are advised that they may not alter components of this manual based on memoranda unless the memo was issued by the Chief of Police or designee.
V. WRITTEN DIRECTIVES (TBP 1.04)
A. Departmental Policy Manual and Standard Operating Procedures.
1. The Policy Manual contains policy, rules, and procedures as defined above, and is a written directive governing organizational matters.
2. A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) primarily contains procedures and is a written directive governing operational matters and routine daily tasks such as how to respond to alarms, how to book a prisoner, etc.
a. Because they contain many procedural statements, SOPs permit some discretion. While SOPs are the preferred method of accomplishing a task, the agency recognizes that an employee may depart from procedures if unusual circumstances warrant, and supervisors approve. Employees must justify their actions and document any departure from Standard Operating Procedure.
b. The Chief of Police approves Standard Operating Procedures.
B. No policy, rule, regulation, procedure or memorandum is valid unless signed by the Chief of Police or his designee.
C. Within the context of any directive, the use of the word "shall" or "will" denotes an action or behavior that is mandatory and unequivocal. The words "may," "can," or "should" denote an action or behavior that is discretionary.
D. Any member of the department may suggest or recommend changes to the Chief of Police concerning the Policy Manual or Standard Operating Procedure by forwarding the suggestion through their chain of command.
E. The Chief of Police or his or her designee will completely review the Policy Manual and Standard Operating Procedures at least biennially to ensure continued compliance with Texas law and operations. Revisions may be made at any time. Once a revision is approved and published, each employee shall be deemed to be on notice with regards to the current version.
VI. COMPLIANCE WITH DIRECTIVES
A. All employees of this Department shall read, adhere to, and are held accountable for all directives, policies, procedures, rules, and instructional training material.
B. All employees are responsible for the receipt of and adherence to all written directives that affect the employee and the employee's work status.
C. All employees are responsible for receipt and maintenance of all directives that are distributed to that employee. Each employee of the Department shall sign a statement acknowledging that the member has received, read, understands and agrees to abide by the directive supplied to them in the appropriate manual(s), including revisions. If an employee does not understand the content of an order or directive, or believes that an order or directive illegal or in conflict with other orders or directives, he or she should immediately notify a supervisor who shall provide instruction or training as necessary.
D. Copies of the statements of receipt (See C above) shall be maintained in the written directive file.
E. All employees shall comply with the provisions of these directives and the City Employee Handbook. If an issue is not addressed in the Employee Handbook, these directives shall apply.
F. The Policy Manual and Standard Operating Procedures apply to all sworn officers and non-sworn employees of the Police Department both on and off duty.
Policy 1.7 Departmental Goals and Objectives
The City of West Columbia constructs a long-term strategic plan that outlines the organizational goals and objectives over a three to five year period. The city manager and the city council develop this strategic plan with input from the department directors and the community. Each September, the city manager will update the strategic plan by eliminating goals that have been accomplished and adding new goals that have been developed.
The purpose of this policy is to outline the process used by departmental personnel in the development of departmental goals and objectives.
III. ANNUAL GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
A. Each October, after the revision of the strategic plan, the Chief of Police will develop annual goals and objectives for the department. This one-year plan will consist of those goals in the strategic plan that are identified for accomplishment that year plus any additional department-specific goals that need to be addressed.
B. The Chief of Police shall forward a report on the accomplishment of the previous year's goals to the city manager by the first of November each year.
C. Each supervisor is responsible for insuring that all personnel under his/her command are given the opportunity to provide input to the goals, objectives, and strategies of each organizational component.
D. Upon completion, the one-year plan is to be distributed to all departmental personnel. It is the responsibility of each supervisor to ensure that all personnel under the supervisor's command receive the goals, objectives, and strategies of their organizational component.
E. The Chief of Police reviews semi-annually, with the supervisory staff, the progress in attaining the goals, objectives, and strategies of each organizational component.
IV. INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE PLANS
Supervisors, when developing individual performance plans for subordinate employees, will include elements of the annual goals and objectives that each employee is expected to assist in accomplishing.
Policy 2.1 Rules of Conduct
The West Columbia Police Department and the public expect all personnel to maintain high standards of appearance and conduct. The mission of the department is to work with all members of the community to preserve life, maintain human rights, protect property, and promote individual responsibility and community commitment.
To define departmental expectations for on and off-duty personal behavior. This order applies to all employees both sworn and non-sworn.
III. CODE OF ETHICS
All officers shall display the integrity required by the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics:
As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property, to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice.
I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all and will behave in a manner that does not bring discredit to me or my agency. I will maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the law and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.
I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, political beliefs, aspirations, animosities, or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice, or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.
I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of police service. I will never engage in acts of corruption or bribery, nor will I condone such acts by other law enforcement officers. I will cooperate with all legally authorized agencies and their representatives in the pursuit of justice.
I know that I alone am responsible for my own standard of professional performance and will take every reasonable opportunity to enhance and improve my level of knowledge and competence.
I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession . . . law enforcement.
A. Affirmative Duty: The personal responsibility and obligation of an employee to report wrongdoing— rather than to provide such information only when requested.
B. False Report: A report that is not made in good faith, based on information that is known or reasonably likely to be inaccurate; intentionally or negligently ignores exculpatory or mitigating information; or made with the purpose of harassing or wrongly incriminating another employee.
C. Good Faith: A report that provides allegations concerning an employee who is reasonably believed to have purposely committed a serious violation of departmental policy, procedures, rules, or laws.
D. Retaliation: Retaliation of the following kinds is designed to serve as retribution against an employee who, in good faith, has filed a complaint against another employee. In the context of this policy, retaliation includes any deliberate, purposeful actions or failures to act, directed against employees that cause, or that could reasonably be expected to cause, physical harm, property damage, significant emotional stress, or otherwise negatively affect another employee's terms or conditions of employment or that could seriously impair the efficiency, safety or effectiveness of that employee, this department, or both. Such adverse actions may take many forms, including but not limited to, bullying; persistent offensive comments, threats, or intimidation; false accusations; isolating; ostracizing; or acts that malign or disparage an individual's reputation.
E. Serious Acts of Misconduct: Deliberate acts or failures to act that could reasonably form the basis for significant disciplinary action against an employee. Such disciplinary action would be reasonably likely to adversely affect that employee's terms or conditions of employment up to and including termination of service.
V. GENERAL DUTIES
A. All officers shall, within jurisdictional limits, prevent crime, preserve the peace, protect life and property, detect and arrest violators of the law, and enforce the laws of the United States, the laws of the State of Texas, and all local ordinances, according to the rules, regulations, and general orders of the department. Officers must know that when they act under color of law, they are enforcing the law according to statutes, written administrative guidance in the department, ordinances, common usage, and custom. Further, officers shall exhibit good moral character in the administration of their duties according to departmental orders.
B. The department maintains the right to establish oral and written orders to govern and control the efficiency, effectiveness, and safe operation of law enforcement. Officers shall be trained in the rules and expectations of professional conduct prior to assuming law enforcement duties.
C. Management reserves the prerogative to discipline personnel for violations of the rules listed in this order as well as violations of all departmental orders and directives. The decision to discipline and the measure of discipline employed depend on the rule or law violated the consequences of the employee's actions, and the employee's prior history and experience.
D. Duty to Report
1. All employees of this department have an affirmative duty to report serious acts of misconduct or failures to perform actions, defined in departmental policy, procedures, and rules. Failure to report shall result in corrective or disciplinary action.
2. Acts of retaliation against employees who make good faith complaints or disclosures of misconduct against another employee are strictly forbidden. Such acts will form the basis for charges of misconduct resulting in serious disciplinary action.
3. All employees have an affirmative duty under this policy to cooperate fully during the investigation of any allegation of employee misconduct whether conducted by this department or another authorized authority. Protection from retaliation is extended under this policy to all employees who cooperate in good faith.
4. All complaints of retaliation shall be submitted to any supervisor. If the supervisor is the subject of or is involved in the complaint, an employee shall submit the complaint to the next higher ranking employee in the chain of command.
5. In uncommon situations involving highly egregious offenses or illegality that may have departmental or governmental implications, a complaint may be made directly to the chief executive officer. Examples include but are not limited to broad-based corruption, conspiracy among employees, or offenses involving or including high-ranking officers or members of government.
A. Performance Prohibitions
1. As appropriate, disciplinary action may be taken for any of the following reasons:
a. Incompetent or inefficient performance or dereliction of duty;
b. Insubordination, discourteous treatment of the public or a fellow employee, or any act of omission or commission of similar nature which discredits or injures the public. (Insubordination may also consist of direct, tacit, or constructive refusal to do assigned work.)
c. Mental or physical unfitness for the position which the employee holds.
d. Conviction of a felony or misdemeanor involving conduct amounting to moral turpitude (see III.A), or a pattern of misconduct as displayed by series of misdemeanor convictions.
e. Failure to report to an appropriate superior authority incompetence, misconduct, inefficiency, neglect of duty, moral turpitude, or any other form of misconduct or negligence of which the employee has knowledge.
f. Failure of a supervisory employee to take corrective action regarding employees under his or her supervision who may be guilty of any form of neglect of duty or misconduct where the supervisor knows or should have known of the dereliction.
2. Nothing in these rules and regulations limits the charges against employees because the alleged act or omission does not specifically appear in this manual, other orders or policies of the department, or in the laws or ordinances of which the department is responsible to enforce.
3. No member of the department shall be a member of any organization which advocates the violent overthrow of the government of the United States, the State of Texas, or any unit of local government, or participate in any organization which has a purpose, aim, objective, or any practices which are contrary to the obligations of a law enforcement officer under these rules and regulations.
B. Obedience to Rules of Conduct, laws and orders
All employees, regardless of rank or assignment, shall be governed by the following general rules of conduct. Violation of any of these rules by any officer of the department shall be considered sufficient cause for dismissal, demotion, suspension, or other disciplinary action.
1. Obedience to Laws. Employees shall abide by the laws of the United States and the State of Texas as well as the ordinances of the City of West Columbia.
2. Adherence to Departmental Rules. Employees shall abide by the rules of the City Personnel Rules, and the Policy and Procedure Manual and other properly issued internal directives of the Police Department.
3. Applicability of Rules. Certain rules may not apply in undercover police assignments specifically authorized by supervisors in accordance with this Policy Manual. Officers will be strictly accountable for justifying their actions.
4. Insubordination. Employees shall promptly obey all lawful orders and directions given by supervisors and radio dispatchers. The failure or deliberate refusal of employees to obey such orders shall be deemed insubordination and is prohibited. Flouting the authority of a supervisor by displaying obvious disrespect or by disputing their orders shall likewise be deemed insubordination. (TBP: 1.08)
5. Issuance of Unlawful Orders. No commanding or supervisory employee shall knowingly or willfully issue an order that violates a federal or state law, a city ordinance, or a departmental rule or policy.
6. Obedience to Unjust or Improper Orders. If an employee receives an order he believes is unjust or contrary to a departmental General Order or rule, he must first obey the order to the best of his ability and then may appeal the order to the Chief of Police via the proper chain-of-command.
7. Obedience to Unlawful Orders. No employee is required to obey an order that is contrary to the laws of the United States or the State of Texas or the ordinances of the City of West Columbia. If an employee receives an unlawful order, they shall report in writing the full facts of the incident and their actions to the Chief of Police via the chain-of-command.
8. Conflicts of Orders. If an employee receives an order that conflicts with one previously given them by a supervisor, the employee receiving the order shall respectfully point this out to the supervisor who gave the second order. If the supervisor giving the second order does not change the order in a way that eliminates the conflict, the second order shall stand and shall be the responsibility of the second supervisor. If the second supervisor so directs, the second order shall be obeyed first. Orders shall be countermanded only when necessary for the good of the department.
C. Attention to Duty
1. Performance of Duty. Employees shall be attentive to their duties at all times, and shall perform all duties assigned to them, even if such duties are not specifically assigned to them in any departmental rules or procedures manual.
2. Duty of Supervisors. Supervisors will enforce the rules, regulations, and policies of the West Columbia Police Department. They will not permit, or otherwise fail to prevent, violations of the law, departmental rules, policies or procedures. They will report violations of departmental rules, policies, or procedures to their immediate superior without delay. Where possible, they will actively prevent such violations or interrupt them as necessary to ensure efficient, orderly operations.
3. Conduct and Behavior. Employees whether on-duty or off-duty shall follow the ordinary and reasonable rules of good conduct and behavior and shall not commit any act in an official or private capacity tending to bring reproach, discredit, or embarrassment to their profession or the department. Employees shall follow established procedures in carrying out their duties as police officers and/or employees of the department, and shall at all time use sound judgment.
4. Responsibility to Serve the Public. Employees shall promptly serve the public by providing direction, counsel and other assistance that does not interfere with the discharge of their duties. They shall make every attempt to respond to the inquiry or request for assistance themselves.
5. Responsibility to Respect the Rights of Others. Employees shall respect the rights of individuals, and shall not engage in discrimination, oppression or favoritism. Employees shall maintain a strictly impartial attitude toward all persons with whom they come in to contact with in an official capacity.
6. Truthfulness. Members shall be truthful in all official verbal and written communications and reports. Employees will be truthful in any court related testimony or agency investigations. Officers who are undercover or conducting interviews or interrogations may find it necessary to provide inaccurate information in order to maintain their cover or determine the truthfulness or veracity of a subject.
7. Officers Always Subject to Duty. Officers shall at all times respond to the lawful orders of supervisors, and to the call of individuals in need of police assistance. The fact that they may be off-duty shall not relieve them from the responsibility of taking prompt and proper police action or from being recalled to duty as needed.
a. The above shall not be construed to include enforcement of laws of a Class "C" misdemeanor nature, or traffic offenses except for breach of the peace, theft, or assault.
b. While off-duty, or in their personal vehicle, officers shall not enforce, or take any police action to enforce Class "C" traffic offenses.
8. Officers Required to Take Action. Except where expressly prohibited, Officers are required to take prompt and effective police action conforming to departmental policy with respect to violations of laws and ordinances coming to their attention or of which they have knowledge. Officers shall promptly and punctually perform all official duties. Officers shall render, or cause to be rendered, medical assistance to any injured person.
9. Reporting for Duty. Employees shall promptly report for duty properly prepared at the time and place required by assignments, training, subpoenas, or orders. Line officers shall remain at their posts or place of assignment until properly relieved by another officer or dismissed by a supervisor. All other officers and employees shall promptly report for duty properly prepared at the time and place required by assignment and shall remain at their post, place of assignment, or otherwise engaged in their duty assignment until having completed their tour of duty as set by established procedures or dismissed by a supervisor. Employees are subject to emergency recall and shall report for duty during emergencies when so notified by a supervisor or the Chief of Police.
10. Exceptional leave. Employees shall, in situations requiring emergency leave or sick leave, notify their supervisors of the circumstances as soon as possible. If unable to report to work, employees shall notify their supervisor at least one hour before reporting time.
11. Remaining Alert to Duty. While on duty or at training, employees shall remain alert and awake, unencumbered by alcoholic beverages, prescription drugs, illegal narcotics, or conflicts arising from off-duty employment.
12. Prohibition of Personal Business while on Duty. While on duty, officers shall not engage in any activity or personal business which would cause them to neglect their duty.
13. Availability While on-duty. Employees while on-duty shall not conceal themselves except for some authorized police purpose. Employees shall keep themselves immediately and readily available at all times while on-duty.
14. Assistance to fellow Officers. An officer shall not display cowardice in the line of duty or in any situation where the public or another officer might be subjected to physical danger. Unless actually incapacitated themselves, officers shall aid, assist, and protect fellow officers in time of danger or under conditions where danger might be impending.
15. Prompt Response to All Calls. Officers while on-duty shall respond without delay to all calls for police service. Calls shall be answered in compliance with normal safety precautions, traffic laws and departmental policy.
16. Duty to Report All Crimes and Incidents. Employees shall promptly report all crimes, violations, emergencies, incidents, dangers, hazardous situations and police information that come to their attention. Employees shall not conceal, ignore or distort the facts of such crimes, violations, emergencies, incidents and information.
17. Responsibility to Know Laws and Procedures. Employees shall know the laws and ordinances they are charged with enforcing, all departmental orders and rules, and the duties and procedures governing their specific assignments.
18. Responsibility to Know Boundaries and Locations. Officers shall know the location and boundaries of their assigned areas. Officers also shall be familiar with the names and general locations of West Columbia streets and highways and the names and locations of hospitals and major public buildings.
19. Keeping Posted on Police Matters. Each day while on-duty and immediately upon returning from an absence, employees shall study and become familiar with the contents of recently issued communications and directives.
20. Sleeping on-duty. Employees must be alert throughout their tours of duty. Sleeping while on-duty is forbidden.
21. Assisting Criminal Activity. Employees shall not communicate in any manner, directly or indirectly, any information that may delay an arrest or enable persons guilty of criminal acts to escape arrest or punishment, dispose of property or goods obtained illegally, or destroy evidence of unlawful activity.
22. Reading on-duty. Employees shall not read newspapers, books or magazines while on-duty and in the public view unless such reading has been assigned by a supervisory officer.
23. Studying on-duty. Employees shall not, during their regularly assigned working hours, engage in any studying activity that is not directly related to their current job assignments or approved by their supervisor.
24. Maintaining Communications. While officers are on-duty or officially on call, they shall be directly available by normal means of communication, or shall keep their office, headquarters, or supervisors informed of the means by which they may be reached when not immediately available.
25. Reporting Accidents and Injuries. Employees shall immediately report the following accidents and injuries: all on-duty traffic accidents in which they are involved, all personal injuries received while on-duty, all personal injuries not received while on-duty but which are likely to interfere with performance of assigned duties, all property damage or injuries to other persons that resulted from the performance of assigned duties, and all accidents involving city equipment whether on or off-duty.
26. Report Address and Telephone Number. Employees shall have a working telephone or other means of communication in case of emergency at their residence, and shall register their correct residence address and telephone number with the department on the prescribed form. Any change in address or telephone number must be reported within 24 hours.
27. Testifying in Departmental Investigations. When directed by a competent authority to make a statement or furnish materials relevant to a departmental administrative investigation, officers shall comply with the directive.
28. Carrying of Firearms. Except for senior staff or as approved by the Chief of Police or established procedures, all officers are required to carry sidearms while on-duty. While off-duty, officers may use their own discretion as to whether to carry sidearms.
29. Registration of Firearms. All weapons carried and used by officers in the performance of their official duties must be registered with the department. Required registration information must be kept current.
D. Cooperation with Fellow Employees and Agencies
1. Respect for Fellow Employees. Employees shall treat other members of the department with respect. They shall be courteous, civil and respectful of their superiors, subordinates, and associates, and shall not use threatening or insulting language.
2. Interfering with Cases or Operations. Employees shall not interfere with cases assigned to others. Employees shall not interfere with the work or operations of any unit in the department or the work or operations of other governmental agencies. Employees against whom a complaint has been made shall not directly or indirectly contact or attempt to contact for any reason, the complainant, witness or any other persons related to the case in an attempt to intimidate or to secure the abandonment or withdrawal of the complaint, charges, or allegations.
E. Restrictions on Behavior
1. Interfering with Private Business. Employees, during the course of their duties, shall not interfere with the lawful business of any person.
2. Use of Intimidation. Employees shall not use their official positions to intimidate persons.
3. Soliciting and Accepting Gifts and Gratuities. Unless approved by the Chief of Police, employees of the West Columbia Police Department may not accept any reward, gratuity, gift or other compensation for any service performed as a result of or in conjunction with their duties as employees of the department regardless of whether the service was performed while said persons were on or off-duty. Employees also shall not solicit any gift, gratuity, loan, present, fee or reward for personal gain.
4. Soliciting and Accepting Gifts from Suspects and Prisoners. Employees are strictly prohibited from soliciting or accepting any gift, gratuity, loan, fee or other item of value, or from lending or borrowing, or from buying or selling anything of value from or to any suspect, prisoner, defendant or other person involved in any case, or other persons of ill repute, or professional bondsmen, or other persons whose vocations may profit from information obtained from the police department.
5. Reporting Bribe Offers. If an officer receives a bribe offer, he shall make a written report to his commanding officer.
6. Accepting Gifts from Subordinates. Without approval from the Chief of Police, employees shall not receive or accept any gift or gratuity from subordinates, other than customary celebratory times such as holidays or birthdays.
7. Soliciting Special Privileges. Employees shall not use their official positions or identification to solicit special privileges for themselves or others, such as free admission to places of amusement, discounts on purchases, or free or discounted meals or refreshments.
8. Personal Use of Police Power. Officers shall not use their police powers to resolve personal grievances (e.g., those involving the officer, family members, relatives, or friends) except under circumstances that would justify the use of self-defense, actions to prevent injury to another person, or when a serious offense has been committed that would justify an arrest. In all other cases, officers shall summon on-duty police personnel and a supervisor in cases where there is personal involvement that would reasonably require law enforcement intervention.
9. Giving Testimonials and Seeking Publicity. Employees representing themselves as members of the West Columbia Police Department shall not give testimonials or permit their names or photographs to be used for commercial advertising purposes. Employees also shall not seek personal publicity either directly or indirectly in the course of their employment.
10. Soliciting Business. Employees shall not, while on-duty, solicit subscriptions, sell books, papers, tickets, merchandise or other items of value nor collect or receive money or items of value for any personal gain to themselves or others. Employees may solicit for projects related to charitable fundraising, but only when done in a manner not to disrupt the workplace and only with the approval of the Chief of Police.
11. Drinking on-duty. Employees shall not drink any intoxicating beverages while on-duty.
12. Intoxication. Employees shall not be under the influence of any intoxicating beverage or substance during their tour of duty or immediately prior to their tour of duty. Nor shall officers be intoxicated off-duty while in the public view. While off-duty, officers that have consumed an alcoholic beverage to the extent that their mental and physical faculties are impaired shall refrain from exercising any police authority. Officers assigned to special units, or assignments where they may consume alcoholic beverage during the performance of their duties shall not do so to the extent that their mental and physical faculties are significantly impaired.
13. Drinking While in Uniform. At no time shall any officer consume alcoholic beverages while in uniform.
14. Liquor on Official Premises. Employees shall not bring containers of intoxicating beverages into a Police Department building or vehicle except as evidence.
15. Entering Bars, Taverns and Liquor Stores. Officers on-duty or in uniform shall not enter or visit any bar, lounge, parlor, club, store or other establishment whose primary purpose is the sale and on-premise consumption of liquor unless for the purpose of official duties, and shall not otherwise enter, remain or frequent such places. Officers on-duty or in uniform also shall not purchase intoxicating beverages.
16. Drug Usage. While on or off duty, employees shall not use any illegal drug or any controlled drug not prescribed by a physician. Employees shall notify their supervisor if they are using any prescribed drug or any other medication or medical device that the employee believes (or has been informed by a physician or prescription label) might impair their driving or critical decision making.
17. Tobacco Use. Smoking is prohibited in all office and building areas under departmental control and occupied by department employees, except in designated smoking areas. Smoking and other tobacco use is prohibited in all department vehicles.
18. Public Tobacco use Prohibited. Officers shall not smoke or otherwise use tobacco products while engaged in traffic control, on an investigation, or while otherwise in contact with or in view of the public.
19. Playing Games on-duty. Officers on-duty or in uniform shall not engage in any games of cards, billiards, pool, dominoes, electronic arcade games, portable electronic games, computer games including both internally programmed games such as solitaire or Internet based games, or other games.
20. Political Activity. While in uniform or on-duty, officers are not allowed to actively participate (e.g., make political speeches, pass out campaign or other political literature, write letters, sign petitions, actively and openly solicit votes) in political campaigns. Civilian employees are not allowed to actively participate (e.g., make political speeches, pass out campaign or other political literature, write letters, sign petitions, actively and openly solicit votes) in political campaigns while on-duty.
21. Improper Release of Information. Employees shall not communicate to any person who is not an employee of this department any information concerning operations, activities, or matters of law-enforcement business, the release of which is prohibited by law or which may have an adverse impact on law enforcement operations or officer safety.
22. Seeking Personal Preferment. Employees shall not solicit petitions, influence or seek the intervention of any person outside the department for purposes of personal preferment, advantage, transfer, advancement, promotion or change of duty for themselves or for any other person.
23. Criticism of the Department. Employees shall neither publicly nor at internal official meetings criticize or ridicule the department or its policies, city officials or other employees by speech, writing, or other expression, where such speech, writing, or other expression is defamatory, obscene, unlawful, undermines the effectiveness of the department, interferes with the maintenance of discipline, or is made with reckless disregard for truth or falsity.
24. Disruptive Activities. Employees shall not perform any action that tend to disrupt the performance of official duties and obligations of employees of the department or which tend to interfere with or subvert the reasonable supervision or proper discipline of employees of the department.
25. Abuse of Sick Leave. Employees shall not abuse sick leave by utilizing the time-off for any other function other than remaining at home, visiting the doctor or obtaining prescription medication without approval from the Chief of Police or his designee. The utilization of vacation or compensation time in place of sick leave shall be used by an employee if they do not have sick leave. This time used will follow the same guidelines as sick leave. The sick leave requirement is to remain in effect during the scheduled work day.
26. Operation and Use of Police Radios. Operation and use of police radios is restricted to authorized and official police business. Personal conversations, or using vulgar, sarcastic or obscene language, or making unnecessary sounds are not permitted.
27. Use of Racial Jokes and Slurs. No employee shall engage in any form of speech likely to be construed as a racial, ethnic or religious slur or joke, whether in the presence of the public or of other employees.
28. Use of Force. Officers shall use only that amount of force reasonably necessary to accomplish their police mission.
29. Indebtedness to Subordinates. Supervisors shall not become indebted to their immediate subordinates.
30. Personal Relationships Prohibited with Certain Persons. Employees shall not become personally involved or develop a personal or social relationship with a victim, suspect, or witness during the course of any investigation.
31. Duty to be Kind, Courteous, and Patient. Employees shall at all times be courteous, kind, patient, and respectful in dealing with the public. Employees shall strive to win the respect of all members of the community in the discharge of their official duties. When addressed, employees shall avoid answering questions in a short or abrupt manner, and shall not use harsh, coarse, violent, profane, indecent, suggestive, sarcastic, or insulting language.
F. Identification and Recognition
1. Giving Name and Badge Number. Officers shall give their name, badge number and other pertinent information to any person requesting such facts unless doing so would jeopardize the successful completion of a police assignment.
2. Carrying Official Identification. Officers shall carry their official identification on their persons at all times. All employees will carry their official identification on or about their persons while on-duty.
3. Personal Cards. Employees are not permitted to have or use personal cards showing their connection to the department if such cards bear any information not directly pertaining to their work as police department employees.
4. Exchange, Alteration or Transfer of Badge. An employee's issued badge shall not be altered or exchanged between employees or transferred to another person except by order of the Chief of Police. Employees retiring or resigning will not be permitted to retain their badge when doing so will hamper normal operations of the department. All badges must be purchased unless exempted by the Chief of Police.
5. Plainclothes Officers – Identification. A uniformed officer shall neither acknowledge nor show recognition of another police officer in civilian clothes unless that officer first addresses the uniformed officer.
G. Maintenance of Property
1. Use of City Property or Service. Officers shall not use or provide any city equipment or service other than for official city business.
2. Responsibility for City Property. Employees shall be responsible for the proper care and use of department property and equipment assigned to or used by them and shall promptly report to their supervisors any loss, damage, destruction, or defect therein.
3. Departmental Vehicles. Employees shall operate department vehicles and other equipment in such a manner as to avoid injury to persons or damage to property. Whenever a police vehicle is involved in an accident, the operator shall notify a supervisor immediately. Under no circumstances shall an officer investigate his or her own accident. The Department of Public Safety or Sheriff's Department will be requested to investigate police involved accidents.
4. Reporting Damage. At the beginning of a tour of duty, employees shall examine any vehicle assigned to them and report any operational deficiencies, damage, or defects to their supervisors. Failure to report damage or defects creates the presumption that the employee inspected the vehicle and found no damage or defects. The employee, in this case, shall be held responsible for the damage.
5. Responsibility for Private Property. Employees are responsible for protecting private property or equipment that has come into their possession by reason of their office against loss, damage, or destruction.
6. Care of Quarters. Employees shall keep their offices, lockers and desks neat, clean and orderly.
7. Property and Evidence. Employees shall not convert to their own use, manufacture, conceal, falsify, destroy, remove, tamper with, or withhold any property or evidence held in connection with an investigation or other official action except in accordance with established procedures. Any property or evidence coming into the possession of an employee shall be submitted to the property room prior to the end of shift.
8. Alteration or Modification of Police Equipment. Officers shall not use any equipment that does not conform to departmental policy or specifications. All equipment shall be carried and utilized only as issued and authorized, and no changes, alterations, modifications or substitutions shall be made to such equipment unless approved by the Chief of Police.
H. Relationship with Courts and Attorneys
1. Attendance in Court. Employees shall arrive on time for all required court appearances and be prepared to testify. Each member shall be familiar with the laws of evidence and shall testify truthfully on any matter.
2. Recommending Attorneys or Bondsmen. Employees shall not suggest, recommend, advise or counsel the retention of a specific attorney or bondsmen to any person (except relatives) coming to their attention as a result of police business.
3. Testifying for a Defendant. Any employee subpoenaed or requested to testify for a criminal defendant or against the City of West Columbia or against the interests of the department in any hearing or trial shall immediately notify the Chief of Police through the chain of command.
4. Interviews with Attorneys. Interviews between an officer and a complainant's attorney about a case arising from the officer's employment by the department shall be done in the presence of or with the knowledge and consent of the officer's commanding officer, department legal counsel or prosecutor.
5. Assisting and Testifying in Civil Cases. Officers shall not serve civil-process papers nor render assistance in civil cases except as required by law. No employee shall volunteer to testify in civil actions.
6. Notice of Lawsuits against Officers. Employees who have had a suit filed against them because of an act performed in the line of duty shall immediately notify the Chief of Police in writing and furnish a copy of the complaint as well as a full and accurate account of the circumstances in question.
7. Notice of Arrest or Citation. Employees who have become the subject of a citation (other than traffic citations) or arrest action in any other jurisdiction shall immediately notify the Chief of Police.
8. Arrest of Officer from another Agency. An officer who arrests a sworn officer of another law enforcement agency shall immediately notify his or her own supervisor of the fact. Officers shall take whatever action is appropriate to the circumstances including issuance of summonses or making a physical arrest. That the person cited or arrested is a law-enforcement officer shall make no difference.
9. Arrest of West Columbia Officer. If an officer has probable cause to arrest a sworn officer of our department, the officer shall first contact his or her immediate supervisor to review and confirm probable cause. In most cases, the officer may obtain a warrant against the suspect officer. Some occasions may demand an immediate custodial arrest.
I. Expectation of Privacy
1. Employees shall have no expectation of personal privacy in such places as lockers, desks, departmentally owned vehicles, file cabinets, computers, or similar areas that are under the control and management of this law enforcement agency. While this agency recognizes the need for officers to occasionally store personal items in such areas, officers should be aware that these and similar places may be inspected or otherwise entered—to meet operational needs, internal investigatory requirements, or for other reasons—at the direction of the agency chief executive or his or her designee.
2. No member of this agency shall maintain files or duplicate copies of official agency files in either manual or electronic formats at his or her place of residence or in other locations outside the confines of this agency without express permission.
J. Dating or Fraternization
Department employees may date, develop friendships and relationships both inside and outside of the workplace as long as the relationships do not negatively impact work. Any relationship that interferes with the department culture of teamwork, the harmonious work environment or the productivity of employees, will be addressed by applying the rule of conduct policy.
Adverse workplace behavior or behavior that affects the workplace that arises because of personal relationships will not be tolerated.
The exception to this policy relates to supervisors. Anyone employed in a supervisory role needs to heed the fact that personal relationships with employees who report to him or her may be perceived as favoritism, misuse of authority, or potentially, sexual harassment.
Additionally, for the same reasons and because of the loss of employer flexibility and employee options, no employee may date another employee who is separated by one level in the chain of command. For example, the corporal may not develop a romantic relationship with any employee outside of their rank.
Even if no improper conduct occurs, the relationship may cause gossip, hard feelings, dissatisfaction, and distraction among other employees in the workplace. The relationship may appear to other employees as an inappropriate use of position power.
Additionally, any fraternization with any employee who reports to the supervisor or whose terms and conditions of employment such as pay raises, promotions, and advancement are potentially affected by the supervisor is prohibited.
The fraternization that is prohibited by this policy includes dating, romantic involvement, and sexual relations.
Consequences of Dating and Extra-marital Affairs for the Organization
A supervisor who dates or becomes romantically involved with an employee creates a serious problem for the department. Dating an employee, even when the employee is not in a reporting relationship, and extramarital affairs, create serious consequences for the department.
They adversely affect the careers of both employees with regard to advancement opportunities, choices of jobs, and assignments. They adversely affect the department's flexibility and consequently, may have an impact on our service to the stakeholders. These relationships can result in charges of sexual harassment, even years later.
If a supervisor decides to pursue a close relationship with an employee, he or she needs to inform the Chief of Police and Human Resources immediately. The department will then decide what, if any, actions are necessary to take in regard to assignments and jobs.
Under no circumstances may a supervisor date, become romantically involved with, or have sexual relations with a reporting employee. And, supervisors should think long and hard about developing this kind of a relationship with a non-reporting employee because of the consequences noted above.
Employees who disregard this policy will receive disciplinary actions up to and including employment termination.
Policy 2.2 Biased Based Policing
We are committed to a respect for constitutional rights in the performance of our duties. Our success is based on the respect we give to our communities, and the respect members of the community observe toward law enforcement. To this end, we shall exercise our sworn duties, responsibilities, and obligations in a manner that does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, gender, national origin, ethnicity, age, or religion. All people carry biases: in law enforcement, however, the failure to control our biases can lead to illegal arrests, searches, and detentions, thus thwarting the mission of our department. Most importantly, actions guided by bias destroy the trust and respect essential for our mission to succeed. We live and work in communities very diverse in population: respect for diversity and equitable enforcement of the law are essential to our mission.
All enforcement actions, particularly stops of individuals (for traffic and other purposes), investigative detentions, arrests, searches and seizures of persons or property, shall be based on the standards of reasonable suspicion or probable cause as required by the Fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution and statutory authority. In all enforcement decisions, officers shall be able to articulate specific facts, circumstances, and conclusions which support probable cause or reasonable suspicion for arrests, searches, seizures, and stops of individuals. Officers shall not stop, detain, arrest, search, or attempt to search anyone based solely upon the person's race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age, cultural group, or any other identifiable group. Officers shall base all such actions on a reasonable suspicion that the person or an occupant of a vehicle committed an offense.
All departmental orders are informed and guided by this directive. Nothing in this order limits non-enforcement contacts between officers and the public.
The purpose of this order is to provide general guidance on reducing the presence of bias in law enforcement actions, to identify key contexts in which bias may influence these actions, and emphasize the importance of the constitutional guidelines within which we operate.
Most of the following terms appear in this order. In any case, these terms appear in the larger public discourse about alleged biased enforcement behavior and in other orders. These definitions are intended to facilitate on-going discussion and analysis of our enforcement practices.
A. Bias: Prejudice or partiality which may be based on preconceived ideas, a person's upbringing, culture, experience, or education.
B. Biased policing: Stopping, detaining, searching, or attempting to search, or using force against a person based upon his or her race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age, cultural group, or any other identifiable group.
C. Ethnicity: A cluster of characteristics which may include race but also cultural characteristics or traits which are shared by a group with a common experience or history.
D. Gender: Unlike sex, a psychological classification based on cultural characteristics or traits.
E. Probable cause: Facts or apparent facts and circumstances within an officer's knowledge and of which the officer had reasonable, trustworthy information to lead a reasonable person to believe that an offense has been or is being committed, and that the suspect has committed it.
F. Race: A category of people of a particular decent, including Caucasian, African, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American descent. As distinct from ethnicity, race only refers to physical characteristics sufficiently distinctive to group people under a classification.
G. Racial profiling: A law-enforcement initiated action based on an individual's race, ethnicity, or national origin rather than on the individual's behavior or on information identifying the individual as having engaged in criminal activity.
H. Reasonable suspicion: Articulable, objective facts which lead an experienced officer to suspect that a person has committed, is committing, or may be about to commit a crime. A well-founded suspicion is based on the totality of the circumstances and does not exist unless it can be articulated. Reasonable suspicion supports a stop of a person. Courts require that stops based on reasonable suspicion be "objectively reasonable."
I. Sex: A biological classification, male or female, based on physical and genetic characteristics.
J. Stop: The detention of a subject for a brief period of time, based on reasonable suspicion. A stop is an investigative detention.
A. General responsibilities
1. Officers are prohibited from engaging in bias based profiling or stopping, detaining, searching, arresting, or taking any enforcement action including seizure or forfeiture activities, against any person based solely on the person's race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age, cultural group, or any other identifiable group. These characteristics, however, may form part of reasonable suspicion or probable cause when officers are seeking a suspect with one or more of these attributes.
2. Reasonable suspicion or probable cause shall form the basis for any enforcement actions or decisions. Individuals shall only be subjected to stops, seizures, or detention upon reasonable suspicion that they have committed, are committing, or are about to commit an offense. Officers shall document the elements of reasonable suspicion and probable cause in appropriate reports.
3. Officers shall observe all constitutional safeguards and shall respect the constitutional rights of all persons.
a. As traffic stops furnish a primary source of bias-related complaints, officers shall have a firm understanding of the warrantless searches allowed by law, particularly the use of consent. How the officer disengages from a traffic stop may be crucial to a person's perception of fairness or discrimination.
b. Officers shall not use the refusal or lack of cooperation to justify a search of the person or vehicle or a prolonged detention once reasonable suspicion has been dispelled.
4. All personnel shall treat everyone with the same courtesy and respect that they would have others observe to department personnel. To this end, personnel are reminded that the exercise of courtesy and respect engenders a future willingness to cooperate with law enforcement.
a. Personnel shall facilitate an individual's access to other governmental services whenever possible, and shall actively provide referrals to other appropriate agencies.
b. All personnel shall courteously accept, document, and forward to the Chief of Police any complaints made by an individual against the department. Further, officers shall provide information on the complaints process and shall give copies of "How to Make a Complaint" when appropriate.
5. When feasible, personnel shall offer explanations of the reasons for enforcement actions or other decisions that bear on individual's well-being unless the explanation would undermine an investigation or jeopardize an officer's safety. When concluding an encounter, personnel shall thank him or her for cooperating.
6. When feasible, all personnel shall identify themselves by name. When a person requests the information, personnel shall give their departmental identification number, name of the immediate supervisor, or any other reasonable information.
7. All personnel are accountable for their actions. Personnel shall justify their actions when required.
B. Supervisory responsibilities
1. Supervisors shall be held accountable for the observance of constitutional safeguards during the performance of their duties. Supervisors shall identify and correct instances of bias in the work of their subordinates.
2. Supervisors shall use the disciplinary mechanisms of the department to ensure compliance with this order and the constitutional requirements of law enforcement.
3. Supervisors shall be mindful that in accounting for the actions and performance of subordinates, supervisors are key to maintaining community trust in law enforcement. Supervisors shall continually reinforce the ethic of impartial enforcement of the laws, and shall ensure that personnel, by their actions, maintain the community's trust in law enforcement.
4. Supervisors are reminded that biased enforcement of the laws engenders not only mistrust of law enforcement, but increases safety risks to personnel. Lack of control over bias also exposes the department to liability consequences. Supervisors shall be held accountable for repeated instances of biased enforcement of their subordinates.
5. Supervisors shall ensure that all enforcement actions are duly documented per departmental policy. Supervisors shall ensure that all reports show adequate documentation of reasonable suspicion and probable cause, if applicable.
6. Supervisors shall facilitate the filing of any complaints about law enforcement service.
C. Disciplinary consequences
Actions prohibited by this order shall be cause for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
1. Officers shall complete all training required by state law regarding bias based profiling.
A. The department shall publish "How to Make a Complaint" folders and make them available at all city facilities. The department's complaint process and its bias based profiling policy will be posted on the department's website. Whenever possible, the media will be used to inform the public of the department's policy and complaint process.
B. Complaints alleging incidents of bias based profiling will be fully investigated as described under Policy 2.4.
C. Complainants will be notified of the results of the investigations when such investigation is completed.
VI. RECORD KEEPING
A. The department will maintain all required records on traffic stops where a citation is issued or where an arrest is made subsequent to a traffic stop pursuant to state law.
B. The information collected above will be reported to the city council annually.
C. The information will also be reported to TCLEOSE in the required format.
Policy 2.4 Internal Investigation Process
The department's image and reputation depend on the personal integrity and discipline of all departmental employees. To a large degree, the public image of the department is determined by a professional response to allegations of misconduct against its employees. The department must competently and impartially investigate all allegations of misconduct by employees and complaints bearing on the department's response to community needs. The department recognizes that its personnel are often subject to intense pressures in the discharge of their duties. The employee must remain neutral under circumstances that are likely to generate tension, excitement, and emotion. In these situations, actions and events frequently result in misunderstanding and confusion. It is to the advantage of all employees to have a procedure for the investigation of the more serious allegations and underlying circumstances so that complaints can be resolved in light of the complicated pressures of law enforcement work.
To describe procedures for making complaints against department personnel, for investigating complaints, and to list and define the dispositions of complaints.
III. PROCEDURES – GENERAL
A. Receipt of complaints
The department encourages any person to bring forward grievances regarding misconduct by employees. Department members shall receive all complaints courteously and shall handle them efficiently. All officers are obligated to explain complaint procedures to anyone who inquires.
B. Responsibilities of supervisors
1. First-line supervisors are primarily responsible for enforcing conformance with departmental standards and orders.
2. First-line supervisors shall know the officers in their charge by closely observing their conduct and appearance.
3. First-line supervisors shall be alert to behavioral changes or problems in their subordinates and, if necessary, document these changes and confer with higher authorities. The first-line supervisor shall assess the behavior, and take or recommend appropriate action.
4. The supervisor shall recommend and, if appropriate, help conduct extra training for officers not performing according to established standards.
5. The first-line supervisor shall employ counseling techniques sanctioned by the department. Counseling is used to adjust and correct minor, infrequent errors or instances of poor performance and to ascertain the nature of any professional or personal problems that bear on performance.
a. The supervisor shall document all instances of counseling.
C. How to make a complaint
A copy of "How to Make A Complaint" will be posted in the public area of the department, provided to media representatives, and may be given to any person requesting information on how to make a complaint.
D. Responsibility for handling complaints
All complaints alleging a violation of the law or policy will be investigated. Complaints regarding law-enforcement operations will usually be handled through the chain of command, beginning with the first-line supervisor. Complaints involving how law-enforcement service is provided or a failure to provide service or violation of the law may be investigated by the Chief of Police or his designee. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the Chief of Police may request another agency or DPS to undertake the investigation.
E. Complaint-handling procedures
1. All complaints, regardless of nature, can be filed in person, by mail, or by phone at any time. As part of the follow-up investigation, persons making complaints by mail or phone normally shall be interviewed and a written, signed complaint prepared. A signed letter of complaint will be accepted as a signed complaint without requiring any specific form. Anonymous complaints shall be followed up to the extent possible. In case of an anonymous complaint, the officer or other person who receives the anonymous complaint shall reduce the complaint to writing in a memorandum with as much information as possible and forward the report through the chain of command.
2. Every effort shall be made to facilitate the convenient, courteous, and prompt receipt and processing of any person's complaint. An employee of the department, who interferes with, discourages, or delays the making of complaints shall be subject to disciplinary action.
3. Normally, a person with a complaint shall be referred to a supervisor or the Chief of Police who shall assist the individual in recording pertinent information. If initially reported to a supervisor, the first-line supervisor shall conduct a preliminary investigation. The Chief of Police may, if appropriate, conduct a preliminary investigation. The preliminary investigation consists of questioning the officer, complainants, or witnesses, and securing evidence.
Upon completion of the preliminary investigation, the following documents shall be prepared and forwarded through the chain of command:
a. a report of the alleged violation;
b. any documents and evidence pertinent to the investigation;
c. recommendations for further investigation or other disposition.
4. If the first-line supervisor or other investigators determine that the complainant is apparently under the influence of an intoxicant or drug, or appears to have a mental disorder, or displays any other trait or condition bearing on his or her credibility, the supervisor or investigator shall note these conditions. Any visible marks or injuries relative to the allegation shall be noted and photographed.
5. Prisoners or arrestees also may make complaints. Circumstances may require a department representative meet the complainant at a jail or prison for an interview. If appropriate, the representative will have photographs taken of prisoners' injuries.
6. An employee who receives a complaint through U.S. mail shall place the correspondence and envelope in a sealed envelope and forward it to the Chief of Police, who shall determine investigative responsibility.
7. Complaints received by telephone by employees shall be courteously and promptly referred to a supervisor or the Chief of Police. The employee shall record the name and telephone number of the complainant and state that the supervisor or, if unavailable, the Chief of Police will call back as soon as practical.
8. The above procedure may also be used when department employees desire to enter a complaint against any other employee governed by this order.
9. In every case, the Chief of Police will be notified of any complaint as soon as possible by the supervisor receiving the complaint. Complaints received overnight will be brought to the Chief's attention the next workday. Complaints alleging a violation of the law or any serious violation should be reported immediately regardless of the time of day.
F. Disposition of complaints generally
The Chief of Police or designee shall:
1. Notify the complainant, in writing, as soon as practical, that the department acknowledges receipt of the complaint, that it is under investigation and that the complainant will be advised of the outcome.
2. Enter the complaint into the complaint log, assign a complaint number, and have the complaint investigated. Minor complaints alleging rudeness, minor policy violations and performance issues may be assigned to a supervisor for investigation and resolution. Allegations of a violation of the law or serious policy violations will be investigated by, an investigator assigned by the Chief of Police, or an outside agency as determined by the Chief.
3. Maintain complaint files separate from personnel files.
4. Take disciplinary action following the investigation, if appropriate.
G. Disposition of a serious complaint
1. Allegations of misconduct that might result in discharge, suspension, or demotion, or criminal charges being sought are serious complaints. The term "serious complaint," in this manual, is synonymous with "internal investigation." Internal investigations examine alleged brutality, gross excesses of legal authority, or allegations involving supervisory or multiple personnel.
2. If a criminal offense is alleged, two separate investigations shall be conducted, a criminal investigation as well as an administrative or Internal Investigation. The criminal investigation examines compliance with the criminal law while the Internal Investigation determines compliance with policy and procedure. The Chief of Police will assign these investigations as required.
3. In cases of serious complaints the Chief of Police shall:
a. Determine if the officer complained of should remain on-duty, be assigned to non-contact assignments, or put on administrative leave until completion of the investigations.
b. Determine and assign responsibility for the investigations.
c. Cause the complaint to be registered and assigned an investigation number in the complaint log.
d. Maintain close liaison with the district attorney in investigating alleged criminal conduct. Where liability is at issue, the Chief shall similarly maintain contact with the city attorney or legal counsel.
e. During all cases of administrative leave with pay the employee will remain at their residence available by phone call during the hours of 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday unless other arraignments are made in writing with the Chief of Police.
4. All investigations will be completed within 45 days to include the taking of disciplinary action when necessary. If additional time is necessary to conclude the investigation, a request for extension will be presented to the Chief in writing providing justification for the extension. If approved by the Chief, a specific number of days will be approved and a copy will be provided to the involved officer and the original placed in the case file.
5. Upon completion of any investigation, The Chief of Police will notify the complainant in writing, of the results of the investigation and any action taken.
IV. INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES
A. Two types of investigations may take place: administrative or criminal. Different rules govern interviews of employees in each case.
B. Assistance of legal counsel
1. Employees are permitted to have an attorney, supervisor, or other representative with them in the room during any interview regarding allegations of misconduct.
2. The employee's representative is limited to acting as an observer at the interview, except that where the interview focuses on, or leads to, evidence of criminality, the attorney may advise and confer with the employee during the interview.
C. All Interviews
1. Prior to being interviewed, the subject employee shall be advised of the nature of the complaint and provided a copy of the complaint and issued a 48 hour notice.
2. All interviews will be conducted while the employee is on duty, unless the seriousness of the investigation is such that an immediate interview is required.
3. During interviews conducted by the department, there will be one employee designated as the primary interviewer.
4. The complete interview should be recorded. The recording will note the time at which breaks are taken in the interview process, who requested the break and the time at which the interview resumed.
5. The employee shall be provided with the name, rank and command of all persons present during the questioning.
D. Interviews for criminal investigative purposes
1. If the Chief of Police believes that criminal prosecutions are possible and wishes to use statements against the employee in a criminal proceeding, or at least wishes to maintain the option of their use, he or another interviewer shall:
a. Give the employee the rights as specified in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 38.22.
b. In addition to the rights set forth in state law, the Chief, or his designee shall advise the employee that if he asserts his right not to answer questions, no adverse administrative action will be taken based upon the refusal.
c. If the employee decides to answer questions at this point, the responses may be used in both criminal and disciplinary proceeding.
E. Interview for administrative purposes
1. If the Chief of Police wishes to compel an employee to answer questions directly related to his or her official duties, the Chief of Police or another interviewer shall advise the employee that:
a. You are advised that this is an internal administrative investigation only.
b. You will be asked and are required to answer all questions specifically related to the performance of your duties and your fitness for office.
c. All questions specifically related to employment must be fully and truthfully answered.
d. If you refuse to answer these questions, you can be subject to discipline that can be as much as discharge or removal from office.
e. I want to reassure you that any answers given are to be used solely for internal administrative purposes and may not be used in any subsequent criminal prosecution should such occur.
f. The purpose of the interview is to obtain information to determine whether disciplinary action is warranted. The answers obtained may be used in disciplinary proceedings resulting in reprimand, demotion, suspension, or dismissal.
2. In an interview for administrative purpose, no Miranda rights are required.
V. INVESTIGATIVE TOOLS AND RESOURCES
A. In addition to interviews of the employee and witnesses, the Chief of Police may require other activities in support of a complaint investigation or internal investigation, including:
1. Medical and laboratory examination
2. The Chief of Police may, based on reasonable suspicion or his observation, require a department employee to submit to a test for alcohol or drug use while on duty. The results may be used in a disciplinary hearing. Refusal to submit to the examination will be grounds for disciplinary action and may result in the employee's dismissal.
a. If the employee is believed to be under the influence of alcohol, a licensed breathalyzer operator shall administer the test. The Chief of Police shall witness the test and sign the report.
3. If the employee has a reading of .02 or higher, or there is other competent evidence of impaired abilities to perform duties, the officer shall be relieved of duty by the Chief of Police.
4. If the employee is believed to be under the influence of self-administered drugs, he may be compelled to submit to a blood or urine test. The test shall be administered under medical supervision where hygienic safeguards are met. The sample shall be handled using the same safeguards as evidence in a criminal process.
5. If the test shows positive results, or there is other competent evidence of impaired abilities to perform duties, the employee shall be relieved of duty as soon as possible by the Chief of Police.
6. If an employee refuses to submit to a test, (alcohol or drugs) then the Chief of Police shall immediately relieve the employee from duty for failure to cooperate in an administrative investigation.
7. Property assigned to the employee but belonging to the department is subject to inspection where the department has a reasonable suspicion that evidence of work-related misconduct may be found therein. Department property includes files, storage lockers, desks, and vehicles.
B. Photograph and lineup identification procedures
1. Officers may be required to stand in a lineup for viewing for the purpose of identifying an employee accused of misconduct. Refusal to stand in a properly conducted lineup is grounds for disciplinary action and may result in dismissal if the criminal prosecution is not anticipated.
A book of photos of department employees may be maintained for the purpose of identification of an employee accused of misconduct
C. Financial disclosure statements
An employee may be compelled to make financial disclosure statements when directly and narrowly related to allegations of misconduct involving any unlawful financial gain.
1. All personnel shall be required to submit to a polygraph if ordered to do so by the Chief of Police.
2. The Police Chief may order employees to take a polygraph when:
a. The complainant has taken and passed a polygraph concerning the incident. (Unless the complainant is willing to submit to testing but the polygraph operator determines the complainant is not a fit subject due to mental condition, age, or medication).
b. Regardless if the complainant takes a polygraph or is even known, but the complaint is of such a nature to bring severe discredit and suspicion on the department and cannot be satisfactorily resolved in any other manner.
3. The results of the polygraph examination shall not be used as the sole basis for disciplinary action against any employee.
4. Any polygraph examination given under the provisions of this order shall be administered by a private contractor licensed to administer polygraph examinations in the State of Texas or must be a licensed examiner from another law-enforcement agency. No employee shall administer an examination to another employee.
5. Refusal to submit to a polygraph examination or to answer all questions pertaining to the charges in the polygraph examination, or deliberately impede the administration of the polygraph shall be grounds for disciplinary action and may result in dismissal from the department.
VI. ADJUDICATION OF COMPLAINTS
A. The Chief of Police will classify completed internal affairs investigations as:
1. Unfounded - no truth to allegations.
2. Exonerated - allegations true, but are the result of adherence to departmental policy or procedure. Exonerated complaints will be reviewed by the Chief of Police for policy issues.
3. Not sustained - unable to verify the truth of the matters under investigation.
4. Sustained - allegations are true. Complaints will not be classified as sustained unless based on a finding of facts determined during the investigation.
B. Completed investigations classified as unfounded, exonerated, not sustained, or policy failure will be maintained in internal affairs files in the Chief's office. Sustained complaints shall be filed in the individual employee's department personnel file with a copy in the internal affairs files.
C. Disciplinary action taken shall be determined by the seriousness of the violation or the extent of injury to the victim, and the officer's prior disciplinary history. It shall be commensurate with the circumstances surrounding the incident and in consideration of the employee's service record and prior sustained complaints.
D. Disciplinary records
1. The department shall maintain a log of all complaints.
2. The complaints and internal investigative files shall be kept in a secure area and shall be maintained in accordance with state law and city policy.
3. The Chief shall direct a periodic audit of complaints to ascertain a need for training or a revision of policy.
4. The Chief shall publish an annual or other periodic summary of complaints that shall be made available to the public.
Policy 2.5 Employee Disciplinary Process
It is the department's policy to impose any necessary disciplinary action fairly and impartially and to offer adequate appeal procedures to ensure that the rights of employees are protected.
Discipline is a process of taking specific actions which will help train, develop or modify the inappropriate actions of an employee, preferably through positive rather than negative measures. Discipline in the department involves reward of employees and in some cases sanctions for inappropriate actions or behavior.
The purpose of this order is to establish procedures concerning informal and formal disciplinary practices within the department.
The term "days," as used herein, means work days provided, however, that if the last day of any time period mentioned herein is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, the time period shall be extended to the next day.
B. Moral turpitude
An intentional act or behavior displayed in words or actions which violates public morals or the common sense of the community involving but not limited to intent to defraud, intentional dishonesty for personal gain, lying, perjury, subornation of perjury, cheating, bribery, unlawful possession of controlled substances, sexual harassment, unlawful sexual conduct, or excessive use of force.
C. Relief from duty
An administrative action by a superior whereby a subordinate officer is temporarily relieved from performing his or her duties.
The taking of specific actions intended to help train, develop or modify the actions of an employee. Discipline may be positive (awards and training) or negative (punishment).
A. Positive discipline
1. Positive discipline seeks voluntary compliance with established policies, procedures, orders. Methods of positive discipline include:
a. Recognition of excellent job performance through rewards or awards.
b. When people outside the department compliment an employee's performance, the person who receives the information shall make a record of the comments and pass them to the employee's supervisor. When the Chief receives compliments about an employee, he or she should write a thank-you note to the individual. Copies of the person's statement and the Chief's response shall be sent to the officer involved, the supervisor and, a copy of all correspondence shall be placed in the employee's personnel file.
c. Truly exceptional acts shall be clearly and promptly identified to the Chief of Police. These acts may be the basis for special awards or for special recognition by community groups or media coverage.
2. Discussion and counseling
B. Consistency in discipline
1. The department abides by the philosophy that discipline must be applied consistently and uniformly.
2. The department provides employees with descriptions of prohibited behavior in the Rules of Conduct Policy and elsewhere in these orders. No list, however, can be all-inclusive. Employees are expected to have a reasonable perception of what constitutes proper behavior, based on training and experience.
C. Relief from duty
1. An employee may be relieved from duty whenever a supervisor, whether the Chief of Police, sergeant, or senior officer, questions an employee's physical or psychological fitness for duty. An internal investigation may follow.
2. The supervisor has authority to relieve an employee from duty, but must promptly report this action to the Chief of Police, accompanied by a written report setting forth details and circumstances.
3. If the necessity to relieve from duty is not immediate, the behavior or actions of the employee shall be deemed a matter for internal investigation. In an internal investigation, only the Chief of Police may relieve an employee from duty. Only the Chief of Police, under consultation with the city manager, may suspend an officer without pay.
4. An officer who refuses to obey a direct order in conformance with the department's orders may be relieved from duty by the supervisor, who may recommend suspension to the Chief of Police. The Chief, in consultation with the city manager, may then suspend without pay.
The following options are available:
1. Documented oral reprimand; counseling; and training
2. Written reprimand.
3. Demotion or suspension without pay.
4. Dismissal from department.
E. Documented oral reprimand; counseling and/or training
1. Oral reprimands resulting from improper actions, while informal, require documentation with an employee's acknowledgment of such record. The following steps shall be observed:
a. At the time of an oral reprimand, the employee receiving it shall be counseled as to correct behavior, and further advised that a written record shall be maintained concerning the reprimand/counseling, and that the employee may read the record.
b. The employee shall be further advised that he or she has the right to file a statement in his or her personnel file setting forth his or her position, in case of disagreement.
2. The reprimanding supervisor shall record the reprimand/counseling in a memorandum to the personnel record containing the following information:
a. Employee's name;
b. Date of reprimand/counseling;
c. Summary of reasons for reprimand/counseling;
d. Summary of employee's response;
e. Suggestions for improvement or specific actions suggested;
f. Name of counselor and signature.
g. The following statement must appear:
"I acknowledge that I have today received counseling and I have been advised of the following rights: (1) that a written record of reprimand/counseling shall be maintained; (2) that the employee has a right to review the record and respond in writing; (3) that the form shall become part of the personnel file; and (4) that the employee is required to acknowledge the reprimand/counseling by signing the record."
h. The employee shall sign and date the form following the statement.
3. Oral reprimand/counseling may involve remedial training. This training may be deemed necessary to rectify the improper behavior. Remedial training may include attendance at academy classes, in-service, or other training specially created to help the employee correct or modify his or her behavior. Remedial training is reasonably offered until the employee can demonstrate proficiency in the corrected behavior. All training shall be documented.
4. If the employee's actions did not result in a formal internal investigation and employee has not behaved improperly following counseling for two years, the record of counseling shall be expunged from the employee's personnel file. Accumulation of three oral reprimands in a twelve month period may result in a written reprimand or suspension, depending on circumstances.
5. Supervisors are expected to informally counsel employees regularly without waiting on instances of poor performance. Most counseling is informal, positive, supportive, and often undocumented.
6. Supervisors are responsible for counseling employees concerning job-related matters, within their capabilities. Many things can affect the job and an employee's performance, so job-related counseling may involve family and other individual, personal subjects. Counseling may include identification of unacceptable behaviors or actions, specifically what was done wrong and the desired or acceptable performance. Counseling can attempt to determine the reason for the particular behavior, determine and recommend how to correct or improve performance or to solve the problem.
F. Written reprimand
1. A written reprimand, issued by the Chief of Police, cautions an employee about poor behavior, sets forth the corrected or modified behavior mandated by the department, and specifies the penalty in case of recurrent poor behavior. A written reprimand becomes a permanent part of the employee's personnel record.
2. An employee may appeal a written reprimand in writing within ten days of its receipt. The employee may appeal the reprimand to the city manager who shall be the final arbiter.
G. Demotion or suspension without pay
1. If the situation warrants, the Chief of Police, in consultation with the city manager, may demote an employee, suspend without pay, or take other measures normally considered equivalent, such as the forfeiture of vacation or compensatory time.
2. Suspensions without pay will normally apply to a period of up to 15 days, as determined by the Chief of Police and city manager.
3. If an employee becomes a candidate for suspension a second time within one year after the first suspension, the employee may be dismissed.
4. Suspensions resulting from the arrest or criminal investigation of an employee may be indefinite or result in termination.
a. Should an employee be arrested or identified as a suspect in any felony, misdemeanor involving violence or moral turpitude, family violence or DWI, they shall immediately be placed on administrative leave with pay and an internal investigation shall commence. At the conclusion of the internal investigation the Chief of Police may take appropriate disciplinary action based on the results of the internal investigation, including indefinite suspension or termination.
b. Terminations may result from other criminal infractions.
c. If an employee is acquitted of criminal charges, the employee may yet be disciplined at the discretion of the Chief of Police or reinstated with full or partial back pay.
5. Any member suspended for a period five days or longer shall return all department-owned property. On any suspension, the officer must return to department custody his or her badge, identification card, and issued firearm.
6. During a suspension, the employee shall not undertake any official duties.
7. Demotion shall be to the next lowest rank.
8. An employee may appeal a suspension within five days of notice. An employee may appeal a suspension through the Chief of Police to the city manager, whose decision is final.
1. Terminations are made in cases of extreme misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance of duty. A complete record of the circumstances of the misbehavior shall be made by all persons having knowledge of the misbehavior.
2. Employees may appeal a dismissal within five days of receipt of notice, and may appeal in accordance with the procedure outlined under policy.
I. Reporting arrests
Any employee arrested for, charged with, or convicted of any crime, or required to appear as a defendant in any criminal or civil proceedings, must so inform the Chief of Police in writing as soon as possible. Employees do not have to report parking tickets. Employees must report summonses or arrests for reckless driving, DWI, or any other hazardous or moving traffic offenses Failure to notify the department of the foregoing shall be cause for dismissal.
V. PROGRESSIVE DISCIPLINE
A. Except for gross breaches of discipline, moral turpitude, or serious violations of law or conduct, the department generally follows the principles of progressive discipline.
B. Probationary employees shall be dismissed, suspended, or otherwise disciplined according to the foregoing. The only difference is that a probationary employee has no right of appeal. In the case of a dismissed probationary employee, the official record shall merely indicate that the person was dismissed during probationary employment.
VI. ADMINISTRATION OF SUSPENSIONS, DEMOTIONS, OR DISMISSALS
A. After an appropriate investigation, should the Chief of Police sustain the allegation and determine that the discipline may be a suspension, demotion, or termination; the Chief may request review of the investigation by the officer's chain of command to obtain their recommendations for disciplinary action.
B. Upon receipt of the recommendations, if the Chief of Police believes the discipline should be greater than a Written Reprimand, the Chief shall request the officer read the written investigation summary and initial each page. The review will take place in the presence of the investigating officer or other staff member. The employee will be allowed to add a written statement to the investigative package stating any arguments with the evidence or investigation process. This statement will be prepared and added before leaving the review site.
C. The Chief of Police will meet with the employee and allow the employee to make any statement regarding the evidence or investigation, and review any written statement provided by the employee. The Chief of Police will then have the employee report back after a period determined by the Chief.
D. The Chief of Police will again review the investigation, considering the employee's input and may then decide on the discipline or send the investigation back for further investigation.
E. The Chief will meet with the employee to inform him or her of his decision. The Chief will present the employee with a letter outlining the discipline, the effective date of the discipline, the reason for the discipline and the employee's appeal rights.
F. Copies of all investigations resulting in disciplinary action and all disciplinary paperwork will be filed in the employees personnel file. A copy of the investigation will be maintained in the internal investigations files.
Policy 4.1 Hiring and Selection
The West Columbia Police Department strives to obtain the best law-enforcement officers possible to help achieve the department's policing goals. To that end, the department shall practice a regimented, rigorous selection procedure while simultaneously affording equal opportunity to everyone regardless of race, creed, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or age. The department does not discriminate against people with disabilities and affords them the same access to employment provided to all persons. All personnel who participate in screening and hiring applicants shall be guided by fairness, equal opportunity, and consistency in applying the procedures set forth in this order.
The purpose of this order is to outline minimum hiring requirements and selection process for police officers and non-sworn members of the department.
A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities.
B. Good moral character
The attributes of a prospective employee that enhance his or her value to the department and the goals of community-oriented policing which include honesty, integrity, truthfulness, obedience to the oath of office and the code of ethics, respect for authority, and respect for the rights of others.
IV. QUALIFICATIONS FOR EMPLOYMENT
A. The minimum qualifications that all applicants for the position of police officer must meet include the following:
1. Age of 21.
2. High school graduate or GED.
3. Pass a background investigation which may include the following:
a. Personal and family history;
b. Credit history, including current creditors;
c. Education, including all schools attended and degrees or certificates obtained;
d. All residences for the past ten years;
e. Comprehensive employment history;
f. A fingerprint-based criminal history search, including all arrests, locations, dates, and dispositions;
g. Traffic summonses and accidents, and
h. An inquiry of family, friends, and associates as to character and reputation, plus an informal interview with the applicant's spouse or "significant other," as well as ex-spouses.
4. Pass an written test
5. Oral interview.
6. Pass a physical examination, psychological screening, and drug test.
7. Be of good moral character.
a. Good moral character is determined by a favorable report following the comprehensive background investigation. The interview shall be employed to help evaluate good moral character. Good moral character ensures compatibility with the department's community-oriented policing goals.
8. Any other standards set by law or by policy of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
V. DISQUALIFIERS FOR EMPLOYMENT
The following are absolute disqualifiers for employment as a sworn officer.
1. Conviction or admission of any felony.
2. Conviction of any Class A or B misdemeanor in the past 10 years.
3. Conviction or admission of any illegal drug use within the past 5 years, or use of marijuana within the past two years.
4. Conviction of family violence.
5. Dishonorable discharge from the military.
VI. APPLICATION PROCESS FOR SWORN
A. The applicant must complete the following:
1. Complete a written city application and personal history statement and submit it to the Chief of Police. Copies of the following documents will also be submitted:
a. Birth Certificate
b. Driver's License
c. High School Diploma or transcript, or GED certificate.
d. Credit report dated no more than 90 days prior
e. Any college transcripts
f. Copy of military discharge papers
2. Arrange with the Chief of Police to appear for other selection process steps.
VII. SELECTION PROCESS FOR PAID AND UNPAID SWORN
A. When a paid opening occurs, an announcement will be placed in at least two media outlets for a minimum of two weeks. A written standardized test will be given to the applicants measuring vocabulary development, comprehension and reading rate. The ranking of candidates will be based on their score.
B. The employee assigned to conduct a preliminary review of the applicant shall perform the following:
1. Obtain the applicant's driving record from DPS.
2. Have the applicant sign information release forms.
3. If the applicant has recently lived outside the county, request records checks through agencies in the applicant's previous communities.
4. Obtain an NCIC/TCIC criminal history check.
5. The Interview board consists of a senior member of the command staff of Police, two other members of the department and at least one member of the public to be chosen by the chief of police. The candidate is graded on an applicant interview sheet and either passes or fails the interview.
6. Those passing the interview will then be considered for conditional offers of employment. The applicant's packages will be forwarded to the Chief for offering employment.
C. The selection of reserve officer will consist of a review of the application and documents for basic qualifications. If basic qualifications appear to be met and an opening exists, the Chief assigns an officer to conduct a preliminary review of the candidate and schedules appropriate testing.
D. The employee assigned to conduct a preliminary review of the applicant shall perform the following:
1. Obtain the applicant's driving record from DPS.
2. Have the applicant sign information release forms.
3. If the applicant has recently lived outside the county, request records checks through agencies in the applicant's previous communities.
4. Obtain an NCIC/TCIC criminal history check.
5. A written test measuring reading comprehension and vocabulary.
6. The Interview board consists of a senior member of the command staff of Police, two other members of the department and at least one member of the public to be chosen by the chief of police. The candidate is graded on an applicant interview sheet and either passes or fails the interview.
7. Those passing the interview will then be considered for conditional offers of employment. The top three applicant's packages will be forwarded to the Chief for offering employment.
E. The Chief of Police will meet with the applicant who best meets the need of the department and conducts a detailed interview with the candidate. If the Chief approves, he will issue the candidate a Conditional Offer of Employment. A copy will be given to the applicant. The Offer of Employment is conditional upon passing:
1. An In-depth background investigation
2. A physical and drug screen, and
3. A psychological screen
F. After a conditional offer of employment is made, the officer assigned to conduct the background investigation may question the applicant regarding his or her prior medical problems including any worker's compensation claims and conditions. The officer will then conduct a detailed background investigation in accordance with the Background Investigation Manual. He shall also schedule the applicant for any further testing.
G. The officer conducting the background investigation shall have had training in conducting background investigations or shall conduct the background in compliance with the Background Investigation Manual. The background shall specifically include contact with all former law enforcement employers.
H. Upon completion of all testing and the background investigation, the applicants file will be returned to the Chief of Police for the final decision.
1. Following a medical examination, an offer of employment may be withdrawn if the applicant is incapable of performing the core job functions for the position or poses a "direct threat" in the workplace (per EEOC guidelines, "a significant risk of substantial harm to the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced . . . through reasonable accommodation"). The Chief must base the threat on medical knowledge, not just speculation.
I. If the individual is approved for hire, the Chief will make all the necessary arrangements for processing a new employee. This will include bringing forward for approval by the Mayor and Alderman. If the individual is not selected, a letter will be sent to the applicant advising him or her that the Conditional Offer of Employment has been withdrawn and the reason stated plainly.
J. Unsuccessful applicants, that do not have permanent disqualifiers, may re-apply after one year from the date of last application if a vacancy exists.
K. Lateral entry.
1. A licensed officer from another Texas agency must meet the same criteria set forth above.
2. The employee assigned to investigate the applicant shall ensure that an applicant with prior law-enforcement experience has not had his or her licenses suspended or revoked. A query will be made to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to determine all other agencies where the licensee has worked. These agencies will be contacted before completion of the background to determine work history and any significant details of their employment.
VIII. APPLICATION PROCESS FOR NON-SWORN
A. The applicant must complete the following for all positions within the Police Department:
1. Complete a written city application and personal history statement and submit it to the Chief of Police. Copies of the following documents will also be submitted:
a. Birth Certificate
b. Driver's License
c. High School Diploma or transcript, or GED certificate.
d. Any college transcripts
e. Copy of military discharge papers
2. Arrange with the Chief of Police to take any written test if required and appear for other selection process steps.
IX. SELECTION PROCESS FOR NON SWORN
A. The Chief of Police will review the application and documents for basic qualifications. If basic qualifications appear to be met and an opening exists, the Chief assigns an officer to conduct a preliminary review of the candidate. If no opening exists, the application will be placed in a file to await an opening. When an opening occurs, the applicant may be contacted to determine if they are still interested in the position.
B. The employee assigned to conduct a preliminary review of the applicant shall perform the following:
1. Obtain the applicant's driving record from DPS.
2. Have the applicant sign information release forms.
3. If the applicant has recently lived outside the county, request records checks through agencies in the applicant's previous communities.
4. Obtain an NCIC/TCIC criminal history check.
5. Conduct any job specific testing required as follows:
C. The Chief of Police will meet with the applicant who best meets the need of the department and conducts a detailed interview with the candidate. During the interview, the Chief of Police shall consider the applicant's appearance (for neatness and cleanliness), mannerisms, judgment, maturity, resourcefulness, and compatibility with departmental goals. If the Chief approves, he will issue the candidate a Conditional Offer of Employment. A copy will be given to the applicant. The Offer of Employment is conditional upon passing:
1. A background investigation
2. A physical and drug screen
D. After a conditional offer of employment is made, the officer assigned to conduct the background investigation may gain additional information from the applicant regarding his or her prior medical problems including any worker's compensation claims and conditions. The officer will then conduct a detailed background investigation in accordance with the Background Investigation Manual. He shall also schedule the applicant for the necessary medical testing.
E. The officer conducting the background investigation shall have had training in conducting background investigations or shall conduct the background in compliance with the Background Investigation Manual.
F. Upon completion of all testing and the background investigation, the applicants file will be returned to the Chief of Police for the final decision.
G. Following a medical examination, an offer of employment may be withdrawn if the applicant cannot perform the core job functions or poses a "direct threat" in the workplace (per EEOC guidelines, "a significant risk of substantial harm to the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced . . . through reasonable accommodation"). The Chief must base the threat on medical knowledge, not just speculation.
H. If the individual is approved for hire, the Chief will make all the necessary arrangements for processing a new employee. If the individual is not selected, a letter will be sent to the applicant advising him or her that the Conditional Offer of Employment has been withdrawn and the reason stated plainly.
X. PERSONNEL RECORDS
A. For each employee, the department maintains a personnel file. This file contains the background investigation package, a copy of all forms completed during the hiring process, all evaluations, disciplinary action amounting to a written reprimand or higher, leave/attendance record, and assignments. The original of the officer's background investigation and all selection materials is sealed in an envelope in this file and is confidential. All TCOLE required documents are maintained in this file.
B. The Chief of Police maintains and controls all personnel records. The department complies with the records retention schedule set by state law and city policy.
C. Employees may review their records at any reasonable time upon request. The Chief may release a copy of a record from file upon obtaining a signed authorization from the employee.
D. All personnel records are considered confidential. Supervisory or investigative personnel who have a need to review sensitive information may do so only with the express approval of the Chief of Police.
E. If the Chief deems it necessary to include derogatory information in a personnel file, he/she shall notify the employee of the fact in writing. The employee may protest the inclusion of such information in writing to the Chief. Probationary employees have no right of protest in such matters.
F. Personnel records are permanent property of the department.
G. Officers from the department may terminate employment and seek a lateral hire with another agency. Requests for employment information on these officers shall be referred to the Chief. The Chief shall disclose the employee's performance record consistent with current law.
H. All records of unsuccessful applicants shall be maintained, including all test results, in a confidential file by the Chief of Police. These records are releasable to other law enforcement agencies when requested and a properly executed release form is obtained from the subject of the records.
I. Photographs of Sworn Officers shall not be released by the department to any organization or media outlet, nor shall it be posted on any department website, or in a publicly displayed department yearbook or photograph, unless the officer has given his or her consent or signed a release to that effect. Exceptions to this prohibition include:
1. If the officer is charged by indictment or information,
2. If the officer is a party in a Civil Service hearing or before a hearing examiner or arbitration,
3. If the officer's photograph is introduced in judicial proceedings.
4. Photographs displayed on officer's Identification Cards are not considered released as they are intended for internal use or to properly identify an officer if required.
Policy 5.4 Audio Video Recording
Recording devices are now common place in society and a means to ensure the conduct of all members of society can be reviewed and ensure official conduct is above reproach.
It is the purpose of this policy to provide guidelines for the proper use and maintenance of the mobile audio/ video and on-body recording devices. This policy provides guidelines for storing, retrieving and processing of all audio and video recordings.
This policy establishes procedures and guidelines for the proper use, care, and maintenance of audio and video recording of incidents as well as providing a uniform method of recording, storing and destruction of audio and video recordings.
A. Area of Performance: The area captured by a video camera and recorded on audio and video recording medium.
B. Audio and Video Recording Medium: Any recording medium (i.e., DVR server, flash drive, etc.) currently utilized for the retention and playback of recorded audio and video.
C. Citizen Contact: As used herein, the term "citizen contact" refers to the time any enforcement action or contact is initiated and continues for as long as the employee has any interaction with the parties involved.
D. Mobile Audio Video Recording Equipment: Department approved in-car video recording system consisting of a camera assembly, recording mechanism, and associated recording medium, exclusive of the wireless microphone.
E. On-Body Recording Device: A device worn by the officer so that conversations and actions between the officer and a second party can be recorded to the equipment.
A. The use of audio and video recording equipment has proven to be effective for collecting evidence for criminal prosecution and as documentary evidence to protect both our citizens and personnel under a variety of different circumstances.
B. It is impossible to predetermine all events that should be recorded. Generally, we must rely on the good judgment of our personnel to anticipate incidents where audio and video recordings might further the interests of justice or protect either citizens or staff. The following is a list of incidents that certainly should be recorded:
1. Traffic stops
3. Domestic disturbances
4. Contacts with persons that appear to be intoxicated or otherwise significantly impaired
5. Contacts where persons are exhibiting confrontational, violent or other abnormal behavior
6. Contacts where the person is believed to be armed or threatens the possession of a weapon
7. An officer must create a recording file in the mobile audio video equipment of any incident in which an offense or complainant could be generated.
This list is not all inclusive and officers may record any event they deem necessary and not in violation of other policies that control recording.
C. If it can be shown that an officer should have reasonably known that a recording was required, but the officer failed to record the event, discipline may be appropriate. Where it can be shown that the officer has a history of not activating the recording device, or alters, or attempts to alter an audio or video recording disciplinary action will be taken.
D. The audio and video recording unit is to remain "powered up" to ensure that officers can manually start recording from the wireless microphone and ensure that as long as the patrol vehicle's emergency lighting equipment is activated, the audio and video recording unit will automatically activate to begin the recording of an entire event. The audio and video recording (including the audio recording from the wireless microphone carried by the employee) will not be stopped, paused, or otherwise interfered with anytime during the stop or contact unless the employee is no longer in direct contact with a citizen or violator or the incident has concluded. The employee shall check the equipment prior to usage and periodically throughout his tour of duty to ensure the best possible recording, such as the appropriate mic being turned on and the camera being in focus.
The On-Body Recording Device is to be turned on and recording whenever an officer is outside the range of the Audio Video Recording Device of the unit or when inside a building when in contact with a citizen.
E. At the time of the "citizen contact", employees should provide, if possible, the following information into the wireless microphone:
1. Location of stop.
2. Description of vehicle.
3. Number of occupants in the vehicle.
4. Vehicle license number and state of issuance.
5. Violation or cause of the traffic stop.
6. Any suspicious movement or activity by the occupants/suspects.
F. Those vehicles equipped with a Watch Guard digital video system shall be maintained and downloaded wirelessly at the police station to the Video Server hard drive.Any incidents which could lead to or have led to a citizen complaint or wrongdoing, or incidents recorded which may be deemed as evidence in an ongoing investigation, will be transferred to DVD upon request by criminal investigations. The officers will be responsible to ensure the chain of command is aware of the video segment as evidence in a criminal investigation by interdepartmental media records request. The supervisor exporting the segment will complete an evidence voucher for the exported segment to preserve the chain of custody.
1. The Watch Guard Body Recording Device will be manual downloaded when the device is full or upon completion of that tour of duty.
2. The body camera will be placed into the recharging cradle inside the patrol office where it will automatically down load all video into the video evidence vault.
G. All recordings that could have an impact on a subsequent prosecution should be submitted as evidence.
Unauthorized altering, erasing, or destroying any portion of the recording media will be grounds for disciplinary action.
A criminal investigation supervisor shall randomly review a minimum of five (5) contacts monthly for each officer with the department. The video should be reviewed to ensure department policies are followed and to evaluate the need for officer training. Appropriate supervisory action will be immediately taken to address any discrepant issues that arise as a result of the review. If extraordinary issues are detected that involve serious incidents of misconduct, violations of department policies and procedures, or have the potential for developing into serious issues, they will be immediately reported to the Chief of Police. The information gathered from these recordings shall also be used to reinforce good work habits or to make corrections in the officer's behavior.
H. If a citizen complaint is lodged against an officer, that officer's supervisor or another supervisor shall enter a request for media records to criminal investigation.
I. The supervisor shall routinely inspect the audio and video equipment during monthly inspections. If an officer should experience a malfunction with the audio and video equipment, such officer shall notify the Corporal, submit a maintenance request for the vehicle and remove the vehicle from service until repairs can be made.
VIDEOTAPE DISTRIBUTION AND RETENTION GUIDELINES
A. Fleet Accidents
Will retain copies of any video recordings made of WCPD fleet accidents until pending civil or criminal action is finalized.
Copies of the videos and required reports of pursuits will be submitted through the chain of command to the Chief of Police and the Evidence and Property Manager as soon as possible but no later than 48 hours following the incident. The Evidence and Property Manager will retain all videos submitted for a period of two (2) years unless otherwise directed by the Chief of Police.
C. Use of Force Incidents
Copies of videos documenting an incident where an employee utilized physical force in the course of duty will be forwarded through the chain of command to the Chief of Police and the Evidence and Property Manager as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours following the incident. The Evidence and Property Manager will retain all videos submitted for a period of two (2) years unless otherwise directed by the Chief of Police.
D. Disaster and Other Emergencies
Copies of video of disasters, such as hurricane, flood, or explosion, shall be submitted to the Evidence and Property Manager to be safeguarded for purposes of training and future planning.
E. Legal Aspects
Any requests for videotapes outside of this agency will be handled according to the Public Information Act.
F. Routine Traffic Stop
Recordings of routine traffic stops will be maintained on department external hard drive for no less than 120 days.
Policy 6.1 Use of Force
This department values the protection and sanctity of human life. It is therefore the policy of this department that officers use only the force that is reasonably necessary to effectively bring an incident under control, while protecting the lives of the officer and others. The use of force must be objectively reasonable. The officer must only use that force which a reasonably prudent officer could use under the same or similar circumstances. The officer's actions will be reviewed based upon the information known to the officer at the time the force was used. Information discovered after the fact will not be considered when assessing the reasonableness of the use of force.
Officers are prohibited from using any force as a means of punishment or interrogation.
The purpose of this policy is to provide law enforcement officers of this agency with guidelines for the use of deadly and non-deadly force. This policy does not set forth a higher standard of care with respect to third party claims.
A. Deadly force
Deadly Force: Any use of force that creates a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury.
B. Non-deadly force
Non-deadly Force: Any use of force other than that which is considered deadly force. This includes any physical effort used to control or restrain another, or to overcome the resistance of another.
C. Objectively Reasonable
1. Objectively Reasonable: This term means that, in determining the necessity for force and the appropriate level of force, officers shall evaluate each situation in light of the known circumstances, including, but not limited to, the seriousness of the crime, the level of threat or resistance presented by the subject, and the danger to themselves and the community.
2. In evaluating the reasonable application of force, officers may consider their own age, size, strength, skill level with department weapons, state of health, and the number of officers opposing the number of suspects.
A. Use of Non-deadly Force
1. Where deadly force is not authorized, officers may use only that level of force that is objectively reasonable and necessary to bring an incident under control.
2. Officers are authorized to use department-approved, non-deadly force techniques and issued equipment when one or more of the following apply:
a. To protect the officer or others from physical harm.
b. To lawfully restrain or subdue a resistant individual.
c. To bring an unlawful situation safely and effectively under control.
B. Use of Deadly Force
Law enforcement officers are authorized to use deadly force when one or both of the following apply:
1. To protect the officer or others from what is reasonably believed to be an immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm.
2. To prevent the escape of a fleeing violent felon who the officer has probable cause to believe will pose a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. Where practicable prior to discharge of the firearm, officers shall identify themselves as law enforcement officers and state their intent to shoot.
C. Deadly Force Restrictions
1. Warning shots shall not be fired.
2. Firearms shall not be discharged at a moving vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle.
3. Because of the low probability of penetrating a vehicle with a handgun, officers threatened by an oncoming vehicle should attempt to move out of its path, if possible, instead of discharging a firearm at it or any of its occupants. However, if an officer reasonably believes that a person is immediately threatening the officer or another person with deadly force by means of a vehicle, an officer may use deadly force against the driver of the vehicle.
4. Officers may use deadly force to destroy an animal that represents a threat to public safety or as a humanitarian measure where the animal is seriously injured, when the officer reasonably believes that deadly force can be used without harm to the officer or others. In these circumstances, a supervisor shall be contacted prior to the use of deadly force if time permits.
V. LIMITATIONS ON FORCE
The following acts associated with the use of force are prohibited.
A. Application of choke hold or carotid control holds, except when the officer reasonably believes such holds are the only means of protecting himself or herself or another person from an imminent threat of serious physical injury or death and the use of deadly force would be authorized.
B. Use of Streamlites or Kel-lites or other flashlights as batons. An officer may use a flashlight or other object designed for a use other than as a weapon only to defend himself or herself or another from imminent serious bodily injury or death and then only if departmentally sanctioned methods are not available or are impractical. The use of a flashlight or other alternative weapon under such circumstances, depending on the manner of use, may be deemed an application of deadly force.
A. All officers shall receive training in the use of their firearms, all non-lethal weapons, authorized by the department, hands-on arrest and defensive tactics, as well as the Use of Force policy prior to performing any law enforcement duties.
B. All officers shall be trained and qualified with their firearms at least annually.
C. All officers shall receive training in the department's Use of Force policy at least annually.
D. All officers shall receive hands-on arrest and defensive tactics training at least every two years.
E. Officers shall receive training in all non-lethal weapons issued or used by the department and demonstrate proficiency with those weapons at least every two years.
F. All Use of Force training shall, at a minimum, comply with the standards established by TCOLE.
VII. REPORTING USE OF FORCE
A. Officers shall document any application of force except for those arising in training, departmental demonstrations, or off-duty recreational activities.
B. If officers have employed any use of physical force (other than the routine use of handcuffs or use of a firm grip to direct the movements of a subject) or used any impact, electrical, or chemical weapons, or pointed or discharged any firearm, they shall first provide for appropriate medical aid for the subject and then:
1. Immediately notify the on-duty supervisor or the on call supervisor (if the on-duty supervisor is unavailable) of any use of force or discharge of a weapon. The supervisor or Chief of Police shall determine if an immediate investigation is required.
2. Photographs of the subject will be taken as soon as possible after the use of force to document any injury or lack of injury.
3. Submit a Use of Force form to the Chief of Police prior to the end of shift describing the incident, the force used, and any medical aid rendered. The Use of Force form shall be in addition to any other required reports.
VIII. DEPARTMENTAL REVIEW
1. The officer's supervisors and the Chief of Police shall review all reported uses of force to determine whether:
a. Departmental orders were violated.
b. Relevant departmental policy was clearly understandable and effective to cover the situation.
c. Departmental training was adequate.
d. Departmental equipment operated properly.
2. At least annually, the Chief of Police shall conduct an analysis of use-of force incidents and to determine if additional training, equipment, or policy modifications may be necessary.
B. Internal investigations
1. An internal investigation will be conducted on any firearms discharge (other than training), and any other use of deadly force by members of the department. An internal investigation may be conducted on other uses of force incidents if a violation of law or department policy is suspected. In addition to the internal investigation, a criminal investigation shall also be conducted in any firearms discharge or other use of force incident where an officer or other person is injured or killed and in any other circumstances where a violation of law is suspected. The criminal investigation may be conducted by another law enforcement agency with concurrent jurisdiction and the results may be presented to the grand jury for review.
2. Procedures for Officer Involved Shooting Investigations are covered in Policy 6.6.
Pending administrative review, any officer whose actions have resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of another person, either through the intentional use of force or by accident involving a use of force or vehicle accident, shall be removed from line-duty assignment. This action protects both the officer's and the community's interest until the situation is resolved. This re-assignment is not considered punitive in nature.
Policy 7.1 Constitutional Safeguards
The federal and state constitutions guarantee every person certain safeguards from government intrusion into their lives. These safeguards have become the cornerstone for the application of criminal justice in America. The department expects officers to observe constitutional safeguards. The department further expects that officers understand the limits and prerogatives of their authority to act. Respect for the civil liberties of all persons shall be the paramount concern in all enforcement matters.
The purpose of this policy is to define the legally mandated authority for the enforcement of laws; to establish procedures for ensuring compliance with constitutional requirements during criminal investigations; to set forth guidelines concerning the use of discretion by officers; and to define the authority, guidelines, and the circumstances under which officers should exercise alternatives to arrests and pretrial confinement.
III. PROBABLE CAUSE AND REASONABLE SUSPICION
A. Probable Cause: An officer must have probable cause to make an arrest or conduct a search.
1. Searches and arrests are based on the existence of probable cause. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, "Probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within their [the arresting officers'] knowledge and of which they had reasonable trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed."
2. When an officer has sufficient probable cause, he or she may arrest a person, conduct a search of the person, record the suspect's fingerprints, take the person's photograph, and detain him/her. The aim of an arrest on probable cause is to make a formal charge. While formal charges may not be filed for any number of reasons, officers should make a custodial arrest only if a formal charge is anticipated.
B. Reasonable Suspicion: An officer must have reasonable suspicion to temporarily detain a person.
1. Reasonable suspicion involves a somewhat lower standard than probable cause, generally defined by the courts as a circumstance or collection of circumstances that would lead a trained, experienced officer to believe that criminal activity may be afoot.
2. When an officer has reasonable suspicion, he or she may undertake a pat-down of a suspect's outer clothing for weapons and record the circumstances of the encounter. The aim of a detention based on reasonable suspicion is to resolve an ambiguous situation and determine if criminal activity is occurring.
IV. AUTHORITY AND DISCRETION
A. Law-enforcement authority: State law invests peace officers with authority to prevent and detect crime, apprehend criminals, safeguard life and property, preserve the peace, and enforce state and local laws and ordinances.
B. The use of discretion by officers
1. While officers have the authority to arrest an offender under many circumstances, they seldom are able to make an arrest for every offense they observe. Officers must prioritize their activities to provide the highest level of service to their community. As a result they must often use discretion in deciding the level of enforcement action based on the circumstances.
2. Departmental policy gives officers procedures to follow for common or critical enforcement tasks. Departmental policies and procedure are to be followed unless unusual or extreme circumstances dictate another course of action. In these cases, officers shall make reasoned decisions in their discretion based on good judgment, experience, and training. It is up to the individual officer to consider the relevant facts, the situation, and then, using knowledge, training, and good judgment, make appropriate decisions. Supervisors must closely observe the use of discretion by their subordinates and point out factual errors or alternatives that may be more appropriate.
3. The vast majority of persons an officer will contact during his/her shift are law-abiding people who have made a mistake or error in their behavior. In many of these cases there are underlying circumstances that contributed to those mistakes or decisions. Officers are encouraged to exercise understanding and compassion when deciding whether or not to take enforcement action, and consider how they, or a member of their family, would like to be treated in similar circumstances.
4. Officers should understand that their decisions regarding arrests and searches are in all cases subject to review by their supervisors.
5. Supervisors shall observe and review the activities of officers and counsel them as needed regarding the use of discretion.
C. Alternatives to arrest/pre-arraignment confinement
1. Officers are required to arrest suspects for all felony offenses and those major misdemeanor offenses where a victim was injured, property was stolen or damaged, or the public or an individual was placed at risk of great harm.
After an arrest has been made in these circumstances, if pre-arraignment detention is not advisable due to the suspect's health, age, infirmity, or family situation, the officer should contact a supervisor for disposition. A supervisor or the Chief of Police can authorize a field release if the individual is known or proper identification is present; or the same authorities can authorize booking and release on personal recognizance.
2. In misdemeanor criminal cases where there is no victim or property loss, where an individual or the public was not placed in danger of great harm, and in traffic offenses, officers may occasionally be faced with situations where formal action is not advisable. In such cases, officers may elect to exercise alternatives, such as the issuance of citations, referral to a social service agency, or simply to give a warning.
3. In determining whether a citation should be used, the officer shall:
a. Decide whether the offense committed is serious.
b. Attempt to understand the contributing factors to the incident and evaluate whether a reasonable person would be influenced by those factors.
c. Make a judgment as to whether the accused poses a danger to the public or himself/herself.
4. Officers often deal with situations where the public interest would be better served by social service agencies or crisis and professional organizations. In such cases the officer should refer the person to an appropriate social services agency.
5. The use of warnings may sometimes provide a solution to a problem and may enhance the public perception of the department. Normally, the use of a warning occurs in traffic offenses, but occasionally may be applied to criminal offenses. In determining if a warning should be issued, the officer shall consider:
a. The seriousness of the offense.
b. Whether a victim was injured or had property damaged by the offender.
c. Attempt to understand the contributing factors to the incident and evaluate whether a reasonable person would be influenced by those factors.
d. The likelihood that the violator will heed the warning.
V. PROTECTION OF INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS
A. Officers will at all times act to preserve and protect the rights of all persons.
B. An officer who intends to question a suspect will inform him/her of their rights. Miranda warnings are required and shall be administered prior to any "custodial interrogation." Officers are expected to understand the requirements of the Code of Criminal Procedure 38.22 before taking any statements from suspects.
1. Listed below are representative examples of situations that are not "custodial" and therefore do not require Miranda warnings.
a. Investigatory stop and frisk.
b. Questioning during a routine traffic stop or for a minor violation, which includes driving while intoxicated (DWI) stops until a custodial interrogation begins.
c. During routine questioning at the scene of an incident or crime when the questions are not intended to elicit incriminating responses.
d. During voluntary appearances at the police facility.
e. When information or statements are made spontaneously, voluntarily and without prompting by police. (Note: Follow-up questions that exceed simple requests for clarification of initial statements may require Miranda warnings.)
2. Administering Miranda.
a. Miranda warnings shall be read by officers from the card containing this information to all persons subjected to custodial interrogation.
b. Freelancing, recitation from memory, or paraphrasing the warnings is prohibited because it precludes officers from testifying in court as to the precise wording used.
c. Officers shall ensure that suspects understand their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney. Suspects may be questioned only when they have knowingly and intelligently waived their rights. Threats, false promises, or coercion to induce suspect statements are prohibited.
d. Waivers of the Miranda rights must be performed affirmatively. Oral waivers are often sufficient but written waivers, particularly in felony charges, are preferred and should be obtained whenever possible on the appropriate agency form. It is highly recommended to video tape all waivers of rights.
e. Officers arresting deaf suspects or those suspects that appear to have limited proficiency in English shall notify their immediate supervisor and make arrangements to procure the assistance of an interpreter in accordance with this agency's policy and state and federal law.