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When Command Does Not Have Your Back?

| Nov 12, 2020 | Firm News

2020 is an unthinkable year that surprised everyone. As law enforcement officers, your ground rules continue to change because of political winds and leaders without the metal to stand up for law rule.  Traditionally cops could rely on their training and the legal precedents taught to make decisions on the street and in the fray. Unfortunately, we face a new uncalculated risk, the anti-constitutional rule of law leadership using civil government to impose political consequences on legitimate police behavior.  Large police force agencies in metropolitan areas cow to the whims of anarchist elected civil governments who have no respect for police institutions or the rule of law founded on 250 years of constitutional interpretation and application to police officer behavior. Combine this with a politicized media which neglects to report critical facts about a perpetrator’s possession and wielding of a deadly weapon while assaulting police. Combined with all too frequent cowardice by command staff to step up and protect their officers who follow the training they get.  Police officers must protect themselves. Protect themselves from the public, the civil government, and the cowardly command staff who ignore what is right for political expedience.

You must protect yourself and your fellow officers from the onslaught of the politically Marxist, Leninist agenda which seeks to disrupt our society for political gain. The purpose of this blog post is to lay out some important ideas to keep in mind when you have a clue that you are at risk:

    1. Document, document, document. Document any incidents in which you are involved, directly or indirectly. Please keep copies of reports you write to ensure they are not later changed or modified. Make sure that you document who is present and what their part was and who was in charge. DO NOT keep these back-up documents on work equipment or in workspaces. If Command places you on administrative leave, your records will disappear!
    2. Acting on orders. If you acted on verbal directions from a Command member, follow up to that Command member with an email or text indicating you complied with what they instructed you to do. Their memory will fade when political pressure or command pressure comes, so blind copy the message to your email for your protection (this gives a date and time stamp to the record).
    3. Review your DPSST training record. The first place Command staff will go if they are coming after you is your training history. They will want to show that you acted inconsistently with something you received training on in previous years. I have seen Command refer to a training an officer received 13 years before as a basis for their disciplinary decision.
    4. Know your Union Contract and read union bulletins. Work with your Union steward to get advice on Command’s historical actions when issues come up; this is especially true if you think you could receive discipline for something that happened or didn’t happen. The Union keeps the information about department policy practices and behaviors.  Depending, however, on your case, they may have limited resources to help you, or in some cases, may have competing interests to yours. You are in the best position to judge your interests; protect yourself.
    5. Know Your Union’s Role. The Union’s role is to protect the Management-Union Contract first and foremost. They can only fight for what is within the four corners of the written contract. They generally cannot address retaliation, discrimination, harassment, except through the grievance process, IF their contract has anti-retaliation, anti-discrimination language. Otherwise, you may be surrendering valuable time to protect your rights by pursuing the grievance arbitration process. If there are clear contract violations, utilize union services. Do not miss your timelines for filing a tort action for non-contract violations.
    6. Discipline Process Paradox. The police department intentionally extends the discipline process to last long enough to interfere with your statute of limitations to file a tort claim notice under state and federal law. If you think you are being discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against, seek legal advice and file a government tort claim notice within 180 days of the initiating incident.
    7. Investigatory Interviews. When interviewed, do not trust the process to protect your interests. Remember the competing interests and agendas of everyone involved. Make sure that if the investigator records the interview, you or your Union representative records it simultaneously. If the investigating party produces a transcript, check it carefully against your recording; if necessary, have your Union or your attorney have your recording transcribed by a certified court recorder.
    8. When you smell rotting fish, get legal help. If you are concerned that you are not getting fair treatment in the process or if it appears that politics is involved in the way they handle your case, consult your attorney. Often, we work closely with the Union to ensure that your civil rights are just as protected as your contract rights. Keep in mind that when sacrifices to political gods are necessary, it is not the shepherd who dies; it is always a sheep or two. Do not allow yourself to be an easy sacrifice for politically motivated command staff and politicians.
    9. Join the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Legal Defense. While the Union offers a certain degree of protection, the FOP will quickly provide you with a lawyer when things start to fall apart ( fop.net ).

You are the front-line defender of our constitutional rights and freedoms as a society.  We need you to keep the peace and enforce our laws for all citizens’ safety, not just the elite few who abuse the law for their benefits.  If you have concerns about something that has happened to you or might put you at risk, call us for a free consultation (503-822-5340).