In our time with this Department, we have had many situations where officers have been terminated for various issues. For most of these incidents, the PPA has great arguments to make against termination. In other cases, the facts surrounding the allegations make it nearly impossible for us to fight a case in arbitration. This article is going to focus on “truthfulness required at all times” and “falsifying a legal document or information in CAD.”
As a refresher for all of our members, the newest version of the discipline matrix was a negotiated item that the Department and the PPA worked on, and is considered the ruling law of the land. In the matrix, we have two different examples of truthfulness, and I will cover both.
Matrix letter E — 4/101.19 Truthfulness Required at all Times
Discipline levels for this offense:
These types of offenses for this category would be lying to your supervisor outside of an official IAB investigation.
Matrix letter H — 4/101.19 Truthfulness Required at all Times
Employee formally noticed of official investigations conducted by the Department who is found to be untruthful during the investigations, or who are found to be untruthful in completing official Department documents.
Discipline levels for this offense:
I can tell you that the “baby” truthfulness is very rarely applied and very rarely used. More often than not, it is the second truthfulness that we see applied. Some of the confusion relates to the “who are found to be untruthful in completing official Department documents.” Here is a list of things that are, or could be, considered official Department documents:
Cell check logs
These are the most common documents that officers have put false information on. I want to make clear how a few of these could be the major truthfulness.
CAD: calling out a stop that did not occur. Putting yourself out at lunch at one location, but actually being at another. Saying you are en route to lunch, but you’re actually already sitting inside eating to extend your lunch hour. Putting in CAD notes that are false.
At CCDC, the biggest issue we see is when an officer writes on the log that they did their checks, but video shows they actually did not do the check.
These issues may sound small and petty, but the Department views it as major levels of truthfulness and has attempted and/or succeeded in firing officers.
The biggest thing I want to impress upon our officers in this article is this: be honest. If it is your lunch hour and you are at someone’s house having “lunch,” just put that address! If someone finds out you were doing more than eating, odds are it will be a low-level discipline, if you’re found to be doing something you should not be doing. But if you put a ghost address and your sergeant goes crawling through the neighborhood to find you checked-out at a different address, then they will try to fire you. If you forgot to do your checks on the modules at CCDC, don’t fabricate the log. Take your lumps or explain why and move on.
The truth is, you have to do some pretty messed up stuff to get fired at this agency. We need all the employees we can. By being honest, you’re far more likely to come out of an incident over being dishonest. Remember, the profession we work in and the city we live in has video running 24 hours a day, and we should always operate under the thought that whatever we are doing has some form of filming tied to it. If we remember that, then we won’t ever think we can do something and get away with it.
I hope this article really helps our membership and aids you in having a long and successful career.
The month of May is dedicated to paying our respects to our fallen law enforcement officers. This year, ceremonies around the country have had to be canceled in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including all of the National Police Week events in Washington, D.C. But although we cannot gather together with our brothers and sisters right now, we remain united in spirit as we remember the far too many brave and dedicated officers we have lost.
On May 13, there will be a virtual candlelight vigil held online that can be watched from anywhere in the world, during which the names being added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial will be read. Once this crisis has passed and the future becomes more certain, I hope we’ll be able to make up for the events we missed and properly memorialize all those who made the ultimate sacrifice last year. But for now, please review the following list of 146 officers who gave their lives in the line of duty in 2019, honor their names, and keep their families in your thoughts and prayers. These heroes will be forever missed and never forgotten. RIP to all.
2019 Line-of-Duty Deaths*
Master Police Officer Joseph William Shinners Provo P.D., UT EOW: Saturday, January 5, 2019 Cause: Gunfire
Police Officer Dale James Woods Colerain Township P.D., OH EOW: Monday, January 7, 2019 Cause: Struck by vehicle
Police Officer Clayton Joel Townsend Salt River P.D., TR EOW: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 Cause: Struck by vehicle
Police Officer Chatéri Alyse Payne Shreveport P.D., LA EOW: Wednesday, January 9, 2019 Cause: Gunfire
Police Officer Natalie Becky Corona Davis P.D., CA EOW: Thursday, January 10, 2019 Cause: Gunfire
Trooper Christopher James Lambert IL State Police EOW: Saturday, January 12, 2019 Cause: Vehicular assault
Sergeant WyTasha Lamar Carter Birmingham P.D., AL EOW: Sunday, January 13, 2019 Cause: Gunfire
Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Norman D. Merkel U.S. Marshals Service EOW: Wednesday, January 16, 2019 Cause: Heart attack
Deputy Sheriff Ray Elwin Horn III Comal County S.O., TX EOW: Thursday, January 17, 2019 Cause: Heart attack
Police Officer Kenneth Xavier Domenech New York City P.D., NY EOW: Saturday, January 19, 2019 Cause: 9/11-related illness
Police Officer Sean Paul Tuder Mobile P.D., AL EOW: Sunday, January 20, 2019 Cause: Gunfire
Lieutenant Robert Earl “Bo” McCallister Susquehanna Township P.D., PA EOW: Sunday, January 20, 2019 Cause: Gunfire
Detective Joseph M. Roman New York City P.D., NY EOW: Monday, January 28, 2019 Cause: 9/11-related illness
Deputy Sheriff Joshua Bryan “LJ” Ryer Jr. Glascock County S.O., GA EOW: Tuesday, January 29, 2019 Cause: Automobile crash
Community Supervision Officer Russell Dean Salazar Kendall County Community Supervision and Corrections Dept., TX EOW: Thursday, January 31, 2019 Cause: Automobile crash
Corporal Shane Michael Totty Baton Rouge P.D., LA EOW: Friday, February 1, 2019 Cause: Motorcycle crash
Detective William Lee Brewer Jr. Clermont County S.O., OH EOW: Saturday, February 2, 2019 Cause: Gunfire
Border Patrol Agent Donna Marie Doss U.S. Border Patrol EOW: Saturday, February 2, 2019 Cause: Struck by vehicle
Trooper Lucas Bartley Dowell VA State Police EOW: Monday, February 4, 2019 Cause: Gunfire
Police Officer Matthew John Rittner Milwaukee P.D., WI EOW: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 Cause: Gunfire
Detective Brian P. Simonsen New York City P.D., NY EOW: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 Cause: Gunfire (inadvertent)
Chief of Police David Paul Hewitt Rising Sun P.D., IN EOW: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 Cause: Automobile crash
Agent Alfred Sanyet-Pérez Puerto Rico P.D., PR EOW: Friday, February 15, 2019 Cause: Gunfire
Sergeant Steven Gaspare Greco Miccosukee Tribal P.D., TR EOW: Saturday, February 16, 2019 Cause: Vehicular assault
Lieutenant Daniel Duane Hinton FL Highway Patrol EOW: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 Cause: Heart attack
Undersheriff Monty Thomas Johnson Pawnee County S.O., OK EOW: Thursday, February 21, 2019 Cause: Automobile crash
Sergeant Brian Keith Crain Jenks P.D., OK EOW: Saturday, February 23, 2019 Cause: Heart attack
Police Officer Nicholas Scott Galinger Chattanooga P.D., TN EOW: Sunday, February 24, 2019 Cause: Vehicular assault
Sergeant Steven Billie Hinkle Sullivan County S.O., TN EOW: Tuesday, February 26, 2019 Cause: Gunfire
I wanted to take the opportunity to educate many of our officers on their rights as it relates to their employment with the LVMPD. The LVPPA has gone to great lengths to enhance the rights of police officers. A large number of these changes may not even be known to your supervision. Below is a list of the rights you have that we added during the 2019 legislative session.
Chapter 289 of NRS is hereby amended by adding thereto a new section to read as follows: If a law enforcement agency suspends a peace officer without pay pending the outcome of a criminal prosecution, the law enforcement agency shall award the peace officer back pay for the duration of the suspension if the charges against the peace officer are dismissed, the peace officer is found not guilty at trial or the peace officer is not subjected to punitive action in connection with the alleged misconduct.
If a peace officer requests representation while being questioned by a superior officer on any matter that the peace officer reasonably believes could result in punitive action, the questioning must cease immediately and the peace officer must be allowed a reasonable opportunity to arrange for the presence and assistance of a representative before the questioning may resume.
The above section is related to a federal case, NLRB v. Weingarten. We attached the same rights to NRS 289 as in Weingarten. The important factor is if the officer, not the supervisor, believes discipline could arise from the questioning, then you are entitled to a representative.
Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, any statement a peace officer is compelled to make pursuant to this chapter shall not be disclosed or used in a civil case against the peace officer without the consent of the peace officer. Such a statement may be used in an administrative hearing or civil case regarding the employment of the peace officer. In a civil case, the court may review the statement in camera to determine whether the statement is inconsistent with the testimony of the peace officer and release any inconsistent statement to the opposing party for purposes of impeachment.
A law enforcement agency shall not conduct an investigation pursuant to this subsection if the activities of the peace officer occurred more than one year from the date of the filing of a complaint or allegation with the law enforcement agency unless the alleged misconduct would be a crime punishable pursuant to state or federal law.
If the law enforcement agency concludes that the peace officer did not violate a statute, policy, rule or regulation, the law enforcement agency shall not reopen the investigation unless the law enforcement agency discovers new material evidence related to the matter.
Except as otherwise provided in subsection 5, a law enforcement agency shall not reassign a peace officer temporarily or permanently without his or her consent during or pursuant to an investigation conducted pursuant to this section or when there is a hearing relating to such an investigation that is pending.
A law enforcement agency may reassign a peace officer temporarily or permanently without his or her consent during or pursuant to an investigation conducted pursuant to this section or when there is a hearing relating to such an investigation that is pending if the law enforcement agency finds, based on specific facts or circumstances, that reassignment of the peace officer is necessary to maintain the efficient operation of the law enforcement agency.
The law enforcement agency conducting the interview, interrogation or hearing shall allow a representative of the peace officer to inspect the following if related to the investigation and in the possession of the law enforcement agency: physical evidence, audio recordings, photographs and video recordings, and statements made by or attributed to the peace officer.
The above rights are straight out of Senate Bill 242 from the 2019 legislative session. These are very important rights, and you should have them somewhere close to you in case you find yourself in a position where you need to exercise these rights.
If you have any questions regarding these rights, please reach out. Stay safe.
I hope everyone has had a happy, healthy and safe holiday season. I want to focus this article on the topic of representation for members, consistent with the Bylaws. We have members who may be unfamiliar with the rules of representation as it pertains to membership status.
Bylaw 9 — Representation 9.01 Employees shall be entitled to representation in the following situations and forums:
Members of the bargaining unit covered by the Las Vegas Police Protective Association-Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Collective Bargaining Agreement or the bargaining unit covered by the City of Las Vegas and Las Vegas Police Protective Association Metro, Inc. Detention & Enforcement Marshals and Municipal Court Marshals Labor Contract are entitled upon request and assuming the Board finds the matter meritorious, to representation in grievances, appeals and before boards described in the above collective bargaining agreements and in the policy and procedure manuals that cover employees of the above bargaining units whether or not they are dues paying members of this Association.
To be entitled to free representation, including legal representation, a member of the above bargaining units must be a dues paying member of the Association at all of the following times:
At the time of an incident leading to an investigation
At the time the officer is formally notified that an investigation is going to be conducted
Throughout the course of the investigation, the resulting discipline and the disciplinary appeal (excluding involuntary leaves without pay such as when placed on administrative leave without pay or during the period of time between termination and arbitration in which an officer would not be paying dues).
As to other matters, i.e. contractual disputes, the member of the bargaining unit must be a dues paying member at the time the dispute arose and at the time of the grievance and any resulting appeal.
This portion of the Bylaws is extremely important. What this says, in a nutshell, is that you must be a member when an incident occurred, a member when the interview occurs and a member when the discipline board or grievance process starts and finalizes. We often get officers who find out they have a complaint against them and then attempt to join the PPA before they are interviewed, but we have to decline representation.
When an officer drops the PPA but has something that occurred while they were a member, we also have to decline representing them. Our Bylaws do not allow for us to bend on this topic. Even on the scene of an OIS, we have had officers ask to pay to join immediately, but we are not allowed to let that happen.
The way to look at the PPA is workplace insurance. You cannot get into a car accident and then pay a car insurance company to cover your vehicle and pay for the accident. The PPA is the exact same. Like car insurance, most people will never use it. But when you need it, you are sure glad it is there. For any officer to benefit from our assistance, you must meet the listed criteria in Bylaw 9.
As always, stay safe and have a great 2020. If you ever have any questions, please reach out to myself or any Executive Board member 24/7.
We are approaching the end of 2019, and with that comes the stress of the holidays. As our children and loved ones begin decorating for all the holiday festivities, we law enforcement professionals may be feeling a sense of unease. That’s because we sometimes have a tough time dealing with all the stress this time of year brings. Whether it is work, family, caring for parents, budgeting, shopping or any other topics that concern you, you need to know there are people who can help.
I think one of the most underutilized benefits we have through the Health and Welfare Trust is our Behavioral Healthcare Options (BHO), or counseling benefits. I know as officers we try to compartmentalize a lot of issues, but sometimes doing that can result in things like anger, overindulging in alcohol, excessive use of prescription drugs or engaging in other activities or behaviors that we feel might “take away the pain.” The law enforcement profession is a very stressful profession. We see and do things that keep us up at night — things we probably wish we didn’t have to see or relive, but it is there. Dealing with these issues in a healthy, productive way is far more effective than turning to the bottle to self-medicate. Take the time to explore the benefits you have available to you. Contact Kelly Taylor, our Health and Welfare Trust administrator, and have her walk you through everything you have at your disposal.
In addition, please do not forget the new legislative change as it relates to PTSD. I have known officers who have shared stories with military troops who have been deployed in war zones, and the troops say the officers have probably been exposed to far more than they ever have. If you find yourself on a call or incident where something is very disturbing to you, fill out the paperwork to document the issue. LVMPD, more than likely, will deny the claim, but it starts the ball rolling on a potential future claim, should you need it. Like most things, if you don’t have it documented, it didn’t happen. Take the time to fill out the paperwork. If you need help, reach out to any of the Board members for assistance.
I guess, in the end, the point of this article is to let you know that if you are struggling and do not know where to turn, there are people who can help. Don’t be afraid to seek out the help you need. There is something I tell all of the new officers at the Academy when we get the opportunity to present to them. I say to them: “This is a wonderful and great career; however, if this job drives you to the point of thinking about hurting yourself, you need to get out.” This career is not worth your life. We are seeing an alarming number of our brothers and sisters taking their lives across the country. Nothing can replace a father, mother, brother, sister, child or friend. The grief you leave behind could be something those people never recover from. If this describes you, go get help. If you don’t know where to turn, call me directly.
I’d like to close by dedicating this article to my father, retired LVMPD officer Jerry Grammas, P# 2331. He passed away suddenly in September. You’ll be forever missed but always remembered, Pop.
Have a great holiday season and thank you all for your membership. Stay safe.
Everyone knows the basic work of the LVPPA. Our primary direction is representing our officers and negotiating the Collective Bargaining Agreement. While those are two of the main pillars of what we do, we also have the opportunity to do a lot of good in the community. We have done rewards for Nevada Reading Week, book drives, toy drives and countless donations to charitable organizations like Special Olympics, Down Syndrome of Nevada, Project 150 and the Epilepsy Foundation.
As we continue to find new ways to make an impact in our community, one of the organizations we work with is Challenger Little League. 2019 marked the second year we were involved with them and were honored to be invited to their award ceremony. The Challenger Division is Little League’s adaptive baseball program for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges. The local chapter is run by retired LVMPD Corrections Officer Thomas Taycher. Thomas and his wife and staff devote all their available time to this amazing league and its players and families.
In 2018, the LVPPA did our first sponsorship of the league. At the end of the season, I was able to attend their awards ceremony and was fully immersed in the great things the league does. I was able to meet our sponsored team, the LVPPA Deputies, and assist in handing out their medals and awards for the season. After leaving the ceremony, I told the Executive Board that we needed to increase our contribution to this amazing cause. In 2019, we did just that! Brian Grammas attended the 2019 awards ceremony with me, as he and I have always shared a love for sports. During the ceremony, Brian was able to experience the same amazing things I had experienced the previous year. We left with an expanded vision for the 2020 season that will go far beyond a simple donation.
What is amazing about this league is the true spirit of sports. There are plenty of great people out there, young and old, who have a disability and just want a chance to play the game of baseball. This league provides that! It used to only cater to kids under 18 years of age, but Thomas recognized that he couldn’t turn away the players who wanted to continue playing baseball just because they aged out. So he opened up the older division as well, to allow all people with special needs to still be able to participate.
For the 2020 season, the LVPPA will be asking some of our officers to assist us in one specific project for the league. If you are interested in helping or donating to this great cause, please feel free to reach out to me. Enjoy the photos of the kids I’ve included with this article, and recognize that the LVPPA loves giving back to our community. I believe that when we are put in positions to help others, we should jump at the chance.
I want to thank all of our members for allowing me to be your president so I can make some of this happen. There is no greater gift than to help others. Thank you all for your membership and friendship. Be safe!
We are halfway through 2019, and the year has been very busy so far for the LVPPA. During the first six months of this year, we had LVMPD contract negotiations, City of Las Vegas contract negotiations, NAPO Top Cops Awards, several officer-involved shootings, the legislative session and multiple events for our members. I have put a lot on the plate of the Executive Board, and they have not disappointed. Whether it be before shift, after hours, RDOs or holidays, your Executive Board is always prepared to do what they need to do to make this organization one of the best in the country.
We have also handled a couple arbitrations when our officers were terminated, and in one of them we succeeded in bringing the officer back to work. At the time of this article, a decision was still pending in the other case. There have been several issues that we have involved ourselves in and handled before they even reached a level where our members heard about it. There is a ton of work that we get accomplished through our relationships with staff. I think, by now, LVMPD knows we want to resolve issues at the lowest levels, but we are definitely not afraid to fire a shot across the table when we need to.
At the end of the day, our membership comes first. In addition to our focus on the new collective bargaining agreement, we have been working diligently at the legislative session fighting for your rights and protection of your benefits. In the past, we almost never attempted to open up NRS 289, the Police Officers Bill of Rights. The reason was because, upon opening the issue, we risked people jumping on board and weakening the rights offered to officers. In this session, we successfully opened 289 and came away with some of the greatest enhancements to your rights that have ever happened. The biggest piece was that if LVMPD was found to have violated your rights in the past, only your statement or whatever was derived from the violation was thrown out. Under the new law, LVMPD risks having the case overturned, including any discipline given to our officer. We have also included the ability to have an officer receive back pay if they are placed on leave-without-pay status for a felony criminal investigation. Also, your Weingarten rights are now included in 289. This simply means if you, not the supervisor, believe discipline could arise from the conversation, you have the right to representation.
These issues have been on our radar for a long time, and now was the time to go after the enhancement of your rights. Big thanks to Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro for her support of the rights of our officers.
All labor groups also benefited from another bill that abolished SB 241, from the 2015 session, which was known as the union-busting bill. This new bill gives the PPA back everything we had to concede under SB 241 and saves our membership a substantial amount of money. There were other bills we worked on diligently during this session, including a PTSD and cancer bill. If you see Mike Ramirez out and about, please extend a “job well done” for getting us through the session. Mike worked tirelessly to support our membership as well as helping all officers across the state.
As we move through the rest of 2019, we will continue to stand up for our folks in an effort to make this the best police agency to work for in the country. The success of our agency depends on the officers who keep the streets safe. From patrol to the detectives to the corrections officers at CCDC and our partners at the City of Las Vegas, we are among the best in the country.
We know staff looks at a term like “morale” and thinks that since you are paid well, morale doesn’t matter. We know it absolutely matters and can impact our ability to fight crime in the community. We will continue to roll out fun events for you all to enjoy and interact with your partners, and hopefully let you know we care about morale.
As always, stay safe, and if you need us, just call.
The LVPPA has seen an uptick in criminal interviews being done by LVMPD from both the Intel and the Criminal Internal Affairs sections. These two units typically handle the investigations and allegations that LVMPD officers have been involved in criminal conduct. The Intel side, because they have a background in long-term investigations and experience dealing with high-level criminal investigations, usually takes on lengthy, intricate investigations. Intel detectives are used to conducting in-depth investigations where the suspect and witnesses do not feel compelled to speak to them. These detectives usually use their detective skills to build a case. The Intel squad usually has experience in T3s, pen registers, search warrants and things of that nature. The Criminal Internal Affairs group usually handles the easier, not-too-involved cases, such as domestic violence, battery, alleged simple cases that occur during the course and scope of an officer’s duties.
In both cases, you as an officer still have rights. I hope this article helps you understand those rights and responsibilities so that no one finds themselves feeling a fellow officer/detective has violated their rights.
First and foremost, Criminal Intel and the Criminal IA team are not the same. Criminal IA works for the Internal Affairs captain, whereas the Criminal Intel Section has a totally different chain of command. Both groups may investigate cases that could have occurred on or off duty. Both may come to you and ask for an interview regarding whatever case they have going. We have seen Criminal Intel tell an officer they are a witness to a case but later arrest the officer after the interview. This particular officer never requested a PPA representative to sit in on the interview. Both sides may even tell you something to the effect of “This isn’t a big deal. You’re just a witness. You don’t really need a rep. This is just to clear some things up. If you don’t have anything to hide, why would you need a rep?” Do these sound familiar? You have probably said similar things to a criminal suspect several times when trying to build your case. How many times did those statements work out and benefit the suspect? What I hope our officers take away from this article is that you have rights and you shouldn’t give up those rights to a detective just because they say “it’s no big deal.” If it is no big deal, then there is no harm in your having someone present to watch out for you. When any criminal group asks you for an interview, please use the following to protect yourself:
Am I a suspect?
If they say you are a suspect, you have the right to remain silent! Stop and contact the PPA to speak with an attorney.
Am I a witness?
If they say you are a witness, you have the right to a representative before conducting the interview! In June of 2018, LVMPD signed a settlement agreement with the LVPPA over a court case regarding interviews of witnesses in criminal investigations. The following are the applicable terms of the settlement:
LVMPD agrees it will not use NRS 289.020(3) to threaten or charge an officer who witnesses an alleged crime while off duty with insubordination for failure to cooperate with a criminal investigation. Officers will have the right to choose whether they want to give a statement to investigators or otherwise participate in a criminal investigation. Example: Off-duty officers witness an altercation at a bar involving another employee. Criminal IA comes out and requests an interview. You can say no and leave and you will not be charged with insubordination for doing so.
The parties acknowledge that officers who witness a crime, while on duty, are obligated to cooperate in the criminal investigation pursuant to LVMPD policy 4/101.14. Example: It is alleged that your partner did something criminal on duty. You do not have the right to say no to this interview, but you do have the right to ask for and wait for a rep.
If a witness officer requests representation and the investigator wants to proceed with the interview, PPA will promptly respond, without delay, to such request. Example: Detectives ask to interview you for an on-duty criminal complaint. You ask/demand for a representative. The interviewer must allow you to call us and wait for us to arrive or they can choose not to interview you. P# 13663 Be prepared for the guilt trip to get you to give the interview without a rep.
These rights that we have secured for you are only good if you enforce them. These units will try and convince you that you don’t need a representative. When this happens, ask yourself, “Why?” The reason is they want to elicit as much free information from you as possible, which may hurt you in a future investigation, and they fear we will protect you from saying such things. If one of these units tells you, “You are free to leave,” walk out and call the PPA. We will be there extremely fast and will make sure we do everything we can to help you in these interviews. Don’t let the investigators pressure you into an interview. Know your rights. Even when you have nothing to hide, it is still better to have someone looking out for your best interests.
The purpose of this article is two-pronged. First, as you read it, I ask that you consider the questions I’m asking and come to a conclusion. Second, please send me your responses. They will in no way be shared with anyone, other than to create a general picture of our members’ feeling about the supervision at LVMPD.
Some of the things that I would like to know are: Is your supervision knowledgeable in the field they supervise? Do you feel your supervisor is a good leader? Do you feel as though your supervisor has your back? On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your supervisor? This rating will be key to the end results. It is also essential for you to name the supervisor you’re speaking about, so we know where people stand. And please feel free to name and rate any supervisor in your chain, or as many in the chain as you would like. For our retired officers, please give us some feedback on the supervisors you worked for who are still here. Rating supervisors who are retired really will not help.
I think something like this would give the PPA better direction on who the good supervisors are and who the bad ones are. Believe me, we have far different conversations and interactions with bosses than the officers who work for them do. I want to know which bosses are treating people well and which are not.
Please send any email responses to me personally at email@example.com. Thanks so much for everything you all do, and please feel free to reach out to us at any time.
I hope that this first article of 2019 finds all of our members and their families happy, healthy and ready to tackle the new year. I wanted to start the new year off with an article related to the infamous Contact Report (cue the music… dun dun duuuuuun!). Many people have some misconceptions about what a Contact Report is and how it can help or, more importantly, hurt your career.
The Contact Report replaced what was called an oral reprimand. I myself received my first oral reprimand back in 1998 for an on-duty accident.
I went to the Accident Review Board and told them that I had my head up my butt when I backed into something. When I walked out of the hearing, I was told to come back in after one minute. When I returned, I was given my oral reprimand, which consisted of something along the lines of, “Pay better attention. See ya around kid.”
Now the evolution of how we got away from the oral and moved into the Contact Report was in part because when the Department went to discipline someone, they would cite a previous oral and an officer would say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I was never counseled about this.” Thus, the Contact Report came about to document conversations between a supervisor and the troops. This documentation is kept in your station file, not your personnel file, for up to one year, or when your next evaluation comes up. Rarely do I see officers getting positive Contact Reports. It happens, but it is rare. The negative Contact Reports are used far more than the positive ones. The good ones P# 5466 should be used more; they show that an officer is doing things above and beyond what is required, and they could help when an officer goes to test for another position.
Let’s focus on negative Contact Reports. A negative Contact Report does not count as “discipline” per se; rather it is the first level of documenting bad performance or low-level misconduct. Understand that when you test for anything on this Department and they ask if you have any “discipline” in your file, no matter if you have one negative Contact or 20, the answer is “no.” A Contact Report is not discipline and thus doesn’t count against you in that forum.
But a Contact Report will absolutely be used as a building block for discipline or administrative transfer. We have observed this time and time again. No matter how much education we provide our members on Contact Reports, some information still slips through the cracks. I hope this article gives you the information you need to fight against Contact Reports and informs you about what your rights are in relation to these reports.
Do you have to sign a Contact? The answer is no, you do not. The supervisor’s policy outlines what to do should an employee refuse to sign a Contact. They must bring in another supervisor, write “refused” on the signature line and list the other supervisors who were present. This is to prevent a supervisor from drafting a Contact, writing “refused” and slipping it into your file without your knowledge.
Can I rebut the Contact? The answer is 100% yes, and, in most cases of a negative Contact, you absolutely should. If a supervisor gives you a Contact and the report is not accurate or you flat-out disagree with what was written, the only way to put your side of it out there is to rebut the Contact. Typically, a member of the Executive Board can help you write the rebuttal. Once written, a supervisor must attach the rebuttal to the Contact. You have 30 days to write the rebuttal. If you do not rebut the Contact, someone in Labor Relations or an arbitrator will assume that you agree with what was written about that incident. Not writing a rebuttal hurts you. When a supervisor starts to build the “paper trail” of Contact Reports on you and then uses those Contacts to Administrative Transfer you or as the first steps in Progressive Discipline, without your rebuttal, a Labor Management board or someone else may deem those to be accurate accounts of what took place.
We ask that officers who receive Contact Reports for any allegation of misconduct to please send a copy to us at the PPA. When we fight discipline cases, one of the ways we get discipline reduced is by providing comparable discipline. The Department maintains that a Contact is not discipline and thus only provides written reprimands or more when we ask for comparable discipline. We know members have received Contacts in the past, but if we don’t have them on file, ready to produce, then we can’t win that argument. If we can produce it, then it makes our argument for a reduction in another case that much stronger. So please, send us copies of your Contacts. We will file them for use when it is time to help another officer in a disciplinary case.
I hope this article has shed some light on the Contact Report for our members. If something comes up and you’re not sure how to handle it, call us before you sign or do anything. Always get our advice on issues, especially those related to discipline. Thanks so much and stay safe out there.