CALEA Update Magazine | Issue 69
Disciplinary Action Upheld
While imposing disciplinary action is one of the least favorite duties of a law enforcement CEO, it is necessary at times to maintain the health of the agency. Accreditation can assist an agency when disciplinary actions are appealed. Often disciplinary action taken against an employee is based on a violation of the Code of Conduct Regulations required by CALEA Standard 26.1.1.
In one case, my agency's accredited status became the cornerstone of our response to an appeal. The employee had been charged with violating several of the provisions of our Code of Conduct Regulations. In the appeal of the proposed disciplinary action, the employee claimed that the regulations were, among other things, arbitrary and capricious.
During the hearing, the Florida Highway Patrol's accreditation manager testified. In his testimony, the accreditation manager provided details on the history of law enforcement accreditation, the accreditation process, and how the Patrol had developed the regulations in question. One regulation had been taken from state statute. The other challenged regulations had, as is common among agencies involved in accreditation, been "borrowed" from an accredited agency. The accreditation manager explained that law enforcement and other professionals from across the nation had developed the CALEA standards and that those issues addressed by the standards were viewed as essential to increasing the professionalism of law enforcement. He went on to testify that during the on-site assessment of the Patrol, the assessors verified that the regulations met the national standard.
As a result, the hearing officer found that none of the regulations were arbitrary nor capricious. While he did consider one regulation vague, the disciplinary action was upheld. To have your agency's written directives reviewed by outside professionals only strengthens their legitimacy and ensures that fairly applied discipline is not derailed due to technicalities. Also, by having clear directives, employees know what is expected of them and are better able to perform their complex and demanding tasks. The accreditation process provides the basis for developing just such a written directive system.