I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about the Accident Review Board, or ARB. This is a process that has been in place here for many years. Some of you have had the “pleasure” of attending one of these hearings. We as police officers, and also some correction officers, drive a lot of miles in the performance of our jobs. We drive millions of miles per year, and yes, we have a few car accidents here and there.
As most of you know, the past chairman of the ARB was Captain Mark Tavarez. As Captain Tavarez has recently retired, this job now belongs to Captain Peter Bofelli. The other members of the ARB generally consist of the lieutenant from Training/EVOC, a Department attorney and another lieutenant of the chairman’s choice. As you can see, the members of the board, other than the chairman and the attorney, are subject to change and rotate regularly due to vacations and other commitments.
As we all know, when the unfortunate event of an automobile accident does take place, Traffic comes out and does an investigation. If you are involved in an accident, per policy it will be reviewed by the ARB. Generally, the board meets once a month and looks at a month or two’s worth of Department accidents. One question that often comes up is whether your appearance at ARB is mandatory or nonmandatory. The answer is that if you get a Notice to Appear, you must appear, as it is an order to appear for an internal investigation. Also, your supervisor is required to be there as well. On the other hand, if you receive a nonmandatory letter, you do not need to be there. It should be fairly obvious by the notice that you receive, but feel free to contact us if you are unsure. If the letter is for a nonmandatory appearance, I generally advise you not to go, because they already have decided what they are going to do as to any discipline, or they would make it mandatory. If you choose to go on a nonmandatory review, one thing they can do is ask you questions about your accident. If you’re not there, it is a little hard to do this. If you do go and provide information, this may lead to a different outcome than what they initially had in mind, and that might be more discipline.
During these mandatory appearances before the ARB, you will be represented by the PPA. One of the things we do during this process is hold the Department to their standards. If you had a recent wreck, they can only bring it up if it is within a specified time period. The time frame used for this purpose is the same as that used for purging discipline. If you received a written reprimand for a wreck, the ARB can only bring it up and consider it for 18 months, and then it purges out of your file. This is true for the other timelines associated with discipline purging as well.
One thing that is important to be aware of is that if you are deemed to have an “at fault” accident, then more than likely you will receive some form of discipline. The good thing about this is that there is relief in the form of the accident bank. Each of us is accumulating time in this bank. It is all individual and based on your years of service and driving history. The important thing to remember is that if you do get some discipline, it can be offset with hours you have earned that are in this bank.
These are just a few important facts to know. If you have any questions, or if you have a matter before the ARB, please call me. As always, please use your representatives for all interviews you go to. Until next time, stay alert and stay alive.