Don’t Say a Word!

Scott Nicholas
Vice President

Anything you say can and will be used against you, not for you! 

I’m sure most of you remember lying to your parents as a child and getting away with it once or twice, but then the truth eventually came out and the punishment ended up being far worse.

One of the worst things you can do when talking to your supervisors is lie, so don’t lie to try and cover up a minor situation, because it elevates you to a major suspension or even termination if you get caught. Don’t say a word — instead, call us!

Most of these situations could be avoided if you slow down and request a rep, even if it’s a simple call from your sergeant asking you why you weren’t home when they did a welfare check. Don’t answer them until you have been admonished and have been given your 48-hour notice to be interviewed. This gives you time to meet with your rep and discuss your case prior to making any statements that could lead to discipline. 

I’ll get to my point: For years now, we have asked our members to call us when you think trouble may be coming your way. Don’t hesitate to call a rep and discuss the situation. 

The same goes for criminal intel or criminal IA detectives; they don’t hang out at the area commands or CCDC because they are bored or just wanted to stop in and say hello. When you see these detectives in the building, you should already be asking yourself, “Why are they here?”

If for any reason one of these detectives asks to speak to you, tell them no! Tell them you would like to call the PPA or your attorney. Don’t be disrespectful, just ask them for the time to get representation before saying anything. Remember, these detectives are investigating criminal cases, not internal cases. So unless you have someone with you to advise you of your rights, don’t say a word. 

You will probably hear them say, “I just wanted to get your side, so we can clear you.” Don’t say a word! You will hopefully get the “You are free to walk away.” Do it! If they don’t say it, ask them if you are free to leave. If they say yes, then walk away. Walk away and call us ASAP, at any time of the day or night, and don’t say a word. You might even hear this one: “I’m one of you.” Still, don’t say a word.

I know most of us feel like we can talk our way out of anything, or we can give the detectives our version of the story that will suffice for the time being, but once you open your mouth, you are married to the story you tell them. Without someone helping you, these statements could not only get you fired, they could land you in prison. 

Remember, not talking to them isn’t an admission of guilt — it’s a layer of protection from not having your own words used against you. Keep in mind, there is a strong possibility that these detectives are covertly recording you, in anticipation of you speaking to them or making a comment that they can use in their investigation, so lawyer up and call us. You have a right to remain silent, so exercise that right.

Oh, and by the way, don’t give up your personal phones or any other personal devices without being given a search warrant for specifically what they are looking for. It’s your right to demand to know that they have a legal right to your device. Remember, the warrant must outline what the officers are allowed to access on your phone, so why give it to them voluntarily? 

All of this advice goes for any conversations your chain of command might want to have with you. However, Weingarten gives you the right to representation when you feel discipline might result from having a conversation with someone in your chain. Supervisors have the right to bring you into their office and talk to you, but once you feel that conversation turns into an interrogation, you need to demand representation and stop talking. If your supervisor says no SOC will be filed based on the results of your conversation, then document the date and time of that conversation, so you will be able to show the NRS 289 violation. 

What are Weingarten rights? Employees do not have to be alone when they are questioned by an employer in a situation that might result in discipline. An employee’s right to representation in investigatory or pre-disciplinary meetings was established in a 1975 United States Supreme Court decision, NLRB v. Weingarten, Inc. 

When do employees have a right to representation under Weingarten? If you have a reasonable belief that the answers you give might result in your being disciplined, you have a right to union representation during the meeting. Employees are entitled to Weingarten rights in the following situations: 

  • “Investigatory interviews,” in which the supervisor is seeking to elicit facts, to have the employee explain their conduct, to discover the employee’s “side of the story” or to obtain admissions or other evidence
  • A supervisor’s request for a written statement or written answers to interrogatories about an incident or accident in which the employee’s own conduct may be at issue
  • A meeting or discussion in which the employer either has not yet decided whether to impose discipline or is seeking information to support that decision