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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 7/3/2002 4:17:13 AM EST
Question for other LEOs out there. I have a situation in my department. I was recently involved in a pursuit with a drunk driver. It ended happily enough (thankfully). However, the chief is mad that I chose to carry on the pursuit as long as I did (30min). The trouble is that we once had a department policy covering things like this. At no time was I in violation of the old policy. Prior to this pursuit though, the chief got rid of the old policy and came up with a new one. I'm not kidding here....our new policy is that we must be professional to everyone we contact. That's it!!!! Went from about 200 pages to about 5!! Nothing guiding us in anything!! Now I realize that SOPs are nothing but guidelines to fall back on, but at least when you are in doubt you have something to go by. Has anyone had a similar problem and how did you try to resolve it? The department personnel have been supportive of me...just the chief is about to have a heart attack!! I'm really not in that much trouble....just pissed off the chief. Now this is just one in a long list of complaints about this chief. I'm looking for some imput from others who have faced similar problems with their highers. My solution may be to look for another department to work for. If it wasn't for the chief this department would be great. This guy has actually never been a patrol officer so he has no idea what it takes.
Link Posted: 7/3/2002 4:40:03 AM EST
Originally Posted By ColtRifle: I'm not kidding here....our new policy is that we must be professional to everyone we contact. That's it!!!! Went from about 200 pages to about 5!! Nothing guiding us in anything!!
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Clearly the problem is with the Chief. He has a major liability problem on his hands and apparently doesn't realize it. Regardless of whatever policies are in place you too are liable for the consequences of your actions. You just can't be fired for violating policies that either don't exist or are ambiguous. My department uses General orders and Rules and Regulations to guide our activities and govern our S.O.P.'s. Our General orders in my opinion are incomplete and rather ambiguous. Some of them date back to the late 60's and describe duties and activities that are no longer in existence. You are not alone. However such problems are not yours to worry about. Don't lose any sleep over them. Do your job with common sense. Keep in mind what is best for the public that you serve. Respect the rule of law and the Constitution of your state and the United States.
Link Posted: 7/3/2002 6:00:45 AM EST
Did it end up as a collar for you? Was anyone hurt in the process? Property Damaged? If the answers are yes, no, no then I can see what he's so pissed off at. Professional to everyone we contact?...lots of leeway there right?
Link Posted: 7/3/2002 10:41:03 AM EST
Thanks for the input. I realize that I'm not the only one who has problems with their department heads. No one got hurt, the only property damage was to his front tires, and yes we did arrest him. DWI #7 for him. He's looking at 10 years for this. He just got out of prison for both prior DWIs and for Statutory Rape. He has a long criminal history. I guess I'm just concerned that the department's priorities are messed up. Our job is law enforcement and yet that is last in this chief's list of priorities. I have gotten nothing but good comments about my work from both the department and the public, up until now. Makes me worry that the department will never support me in any decisions that I make. Of course, in the future, I will make different decisions when faced with a running bad guy. I'm just concerned that it may cause me to second guess my actions when faced with a bad situation since I now know that I will get no support from the head of the department. Thanks for everyone's input.
Link Posted: 7/4/2002 5:27:25 AM EST
Lack of written policies is a major problem. Even if you have written policy, the courts will hold you liable for "common practice," if that is contrary to written policy. Anything involving, arrest, search, siezure, evidence handling, use of force, or the potential for loss of life or injury to anyone needs to have something on papaer about how it is done, and the paper needs to be enforced. That doesn't mean that policies have to be overly complicated or can't rely on common sense, but your agency will lose criminal cases (ex-you need a written policy about vehicle inventories to get legally "keep" evidence found during inventories), will have tremendous liability, and inconsistent application of resources, which will effect your community relations. I have written lots of policies in the last few years, and our agency is going through the accreditation process with CALEA right now, so I am in the middle of several more policies. CALEA is proving to be a real pain, but it is forcing us to re-look at what we are doing, and think about things that we do not normally worry about. I suggest that you approach the Chief about these issues from a liability and investigative standpoint, and offer a solution (new policies). If he buys off, though, you will have inherited a major project in writing this stuff.
Link Posted: 7/5/2002 2:21:37 PM EST
In Colorado, by state law, Departments are at the very least required to have a policy on use-of-force. I don't know if your state has anything similar, but it might be worth checking. We have a local Sheriff's Dept. that seems to follow the same line of thinking as your boss... if we don't have guidelines, we can do whatever we want without a problem. I'm sure its going to get them in trouble eventually, but it hasn't happened yet. Have you considered talking to a city council person (or city manager, depending on how your citys set up.) I know this could get ugly, but maybe if you could make them aware of the liability the dept./city is taking on, the could be of help. One of the things my dept. has done is wholesale adopt the CALEA policys, to make it easier to get accreditated. dp[0J]
Link Posted: 7/5/2002 2:56:54 PM EST
WHEN A DESK HUGGER TRIES TO WRITE A DUTY MANUAL THAT COVERS EVERYTHING HE SOON FINES OUT IT'S IMPOSSIBLE, SO WHEN THEY GO VAUGE LIKE YOUR CHIEF DID IT GIVES YOU A LOT OF LADITUDE, BUT IT ALLMOST ALLWAYS MEANS A BOARD OR ARBITRATION HEARINGS, OR COURT PROCIDINGS DEPENDING ON YOUR JURISDICTION, TO PROVE YOU DID NOTHING WRONG,WE ONCE HAD A PURSUIT POLICY THAT BASICLY SAID AS LONG AS YOU DID NOT CRASH A CRUISER OR CRASH / KILL A CIVILIAN ALL WAS WELL.SO YOU WERE PRETTY MUCH ON YOUR OWN/UNLESS YOU WERE A A** KISSER AND THE CHIEF LIKED YOU.
Link Posted: 7/5/2002 5:37:35 PM EST
Thanks for everyone's response. Just an update on what's been happening. I have been "talked" to about the incident. I suggested that if the department had better guidelines for us to go by then we would know what they wanted. I was refered to our current "SOP" that states that whatever we do should be along the SOP guidelines of other major law enforcement agencies in the area!! What makes that so stupid is that every other LE agency in the area has different policies. I asked which one we were to follow in regards to pursuits and was told that it should be common sense. I then asked them to define common sense. Needless to say, they were not too capable of explaining what the policy would be. Another thing that came out of the "talk" was that I was being too proactive. Basically doing too much. I have since discovered that this department wants us to come in and drive around and go home with nothing to do. Pathetic. This in a town that is full of drugs and crime. There are tons of opportunities to excel in law enforcement but they specifically do not want us to do so. I was told that myself and another officer are getting too many DWI arrests!! It is definately time to look for another department that actually has a priority on law enforcement. Thanks again for all the input.
Link Posted: 7/6/2002 2:21:24 AM EST
Ok colt rifle, let me take a wild guess/ your in a small town or village pop. 1000 to 5000. Your department has 4 to 10 officers. The DWI arrests are ok, as long as the arrested subject doesn't live in the town, this goes for all traffic issues also, right.Please let me know. A big department is always a better place to work.The smaller the department , the worst the petty town politics.
Link Posted: 7/6/2002 3:19:35 AM EST
The town I work in is about 10000 but near several big population centers so we have lots to do. It is also the welfare center for the county so, as you can imagine, we have all the "disabled" people that have nothing to do but drink and do drugs. We have about 14 officers. Actually the town gives us absolutely no trouble as far as being proactive. The officers are well liked in the town and even (to a point)are liked by the bad guys. For example, one of the officers had a heart attack a few months ago. He is a very proactive officer. There were numerous dirtbags in town that both asked officers on the street and came to the station to ask how this officer was doing. Only the chief is throughly disliked by the town and the city counsel. Part of the trouble with him is that he is extremely impersonnal. He won't talk to anyone and that includes his own officers. In one year here I have probably had two very short conversations with him. He also refuses to tell the news media anything. As you can imagine, the news media hates the department. We are very professional to the public and most of the officers are frequently thanked by the people we arrest for being polite and professional (even though we do get into fights on a regular basis with some of the local scum). None of the officers even like writing tickets so the vast majority of tickets we write are written on DWI arrests. It's frustrating but I guess I'm learning a lot about how some departments function (or don't function). The examples I gave above are just a few. I have decided that, even though they don't want us to be proactive, I will continue to do so since the public doesn't want to pay their officers to do nothing. Then I'll move on to a department where the officers are backed by the command.
Link Posted: 7/6/2002 8:02:49 AM EST
Youre department has a default SOP. Meaning that your SOP is: 1. The way your FTO taught you. 2. The way you have observed your are partners doing it. 3. The way you have done it in the past. 4. the way your Sgt's have seen you do it an not corrected it. That's the way the judges and lawyers look at it.
Link Posted: 7/9/2002 6:02:27 PM EST
You want SOP's come to work for the federal govt. I day doesn't go by that I don't find a memorandum in my mailbox about comuting distance, use of GOV (Govt Owned Vehicle), use of the credit card, name changes for different divisons, yada, yada, yada. There are so many SOP's they have taken to putting them on computer disks, but the new computer security SOP removed agents ability in install software on our laptop's so we can't install the new electronic manual of orders.
Link Posted: 7/12/2002 7:36:10 PM EST
Sorry to hear you got "talked to" by the boss. That is going to happen in smaller towns. Just accept it, and let it go. Do your thing like you said and get the hell out of there. Sounds like you want bigger and better things anyway. Good luck. Reference the dirtbags being nice to you, they do that so they dont get arrested the next time they f**k up. Hope it all works out for ya man.
Link Posted: 7/16/2002 9:44:02 PM EST
ColtRifle Here's how MY departments SOP manual goes. "You do things this way", "everyone will do things this way except when the on-scene supervisor says do it another way". Tada! Actually, we had a couple of new guys recently who questioned that portion of the SOP. You can handle it one of two ways. 1. Worry about not being told how to do something, or 2. When in the slightest doubt, call the supervisor on the radio and make him tell you (therefore throwing the vicarious liability monkey all over his ass). That kind of policy is what will eventually get your department in way much more trouble than it ever will you.
Link Posted: 7/18/2002 7:22:31 PM EST
ColtRifle........do you work in MY department? LOL Check out the forums at www.officer.com and do a search for my handle. I can relate to small department SOP BS.........VERY well.
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