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Police Bureau

Sworn to protect. Dedicated to serve.

Phone: 503-823-0000

Fax: 503-823-0342

Non-Emergency: 503-823-3333

1111 S.W. 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

0335.00 Discipline Process

335.00, Discipline Process  

 

Refer:

  • City of Portland, Human Resources Administrative Rule 5.01, Discipline
  • Directive 330.00, Internal Affairs, Complaint Intake and Processing
  • Directive 336.00, Police Review Board
  • Directive 338.00, Discipline Guide

 

Definitions:

  • Case File: A file containing copies of all of the reports and documents for a specific case.

 

  • Due Process Hearing: A pre-disciplinary meeting with the Chief of Police and the subject member to discuss the member’s proposed discipline.

 

  • Finding: A determination of whether an allegation against a member is unfounded, exonerated, not sustained or sustained. These findings have the following meanings:
  • Unfounded: The allegation was false or devoid of fact or there was not a credible basis for a possible violation of policy or procedure.
  • Exonerated: The act occurred, but was lawful and within policy.
  • Not Sustained: The evidence was insufficient to prove a violation of policy or procedure.
  • Sustained: The evidence was sufficient to prove a violation of policy or procedure.

A finding of unfounded is a high threshold and requires a high level of certainty that there is no factual basis for the allegation or no credible basis that the allegation could constitute a violation of policy or procedure. A finding of exonerated, not sustained, or sustained is based on a preponderance of the evidence.

 

  • Findings Cover Sheet: A form attached to an administrative investigation case file by the Responsibility Unit Manager recommending the finding. This form includes sections for the appropriate assistant chief, Professional Standards Division Captain, and the Independent Police Review Division Director to list whether they concur or controvert the findings, whether more investigation is warranted, whether the case would benefit from a Police Review Board hearing, and/or suggest additional recommendations (e.g. training review, policy review, supervision review). 

 

  • Preponderance of the Evidence: Facts and circumstances indicating it is more likely than not that a violation of policy or procedure either occurred or did not occur. 

 

  • Subject Member: The current or former Bureau employee whose actions are under review.

 

  • Command Counseling: Command Counseling is nondisciplinary, corrective action. It is a formal discussion with a member regarding a policy violation or misconduct that is documented in a memorandum. 

 

  • Letter of Reprimand: A disciplinary letter placed in the member’s personnel file that details a member’s behavior that violated one or more Bureau policies or procedures but does not involve an economic sanction such as a suspension, demotion or discharge. 

 

  • Suspension: Removal from work status, without pay, for specified period of time. 

 

  • Demotion: Reversion to a lower rank or job classification. 

 

  • Discharge: Termination of Police Bureau employment. 

 

Policy:

1.  Members are subject to disciplinary action for cause or just cause. Possible disciplinary actions are identified in Human Resources Administrative Rule 5.01, Discipline, or the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

2.  Generally, discipline is progressive, beginning with an oral warning or Letter of Reprimand and proceeding to suspension, demotion, or discharge.

3.  Counseling, instruction, and training are not considered disciplinary action and may be used to correct minor, non-repetitive violations of policies or procedures.

4.  Serious offenses include, but are not limited to, criminal or other unlawful acts, abuse of authority, theft, untruthfulness, excessive force, failure to follow orders, unlawful discrimination, workplace harassment, retaliation, hostile work environ­ment, or workplace violence and may justify suspension or discharge without the necessity of prior warnings or attempts at corrective action or discipline.

 

5.  In all cases, the level and degree of discipline shall be in keeping with the seri­ousness of the offense, taking into account the circumstances relevant to the case. For less serious infractions, which warrant progressive discipline, the ultimate goal is to put the member on notice that certain conduct is unacceptable and to provide the member with a reasonable opportunity to modify his or her behavior.

6.  It is not the purpose of this directive to require some automatic progression of disciplinary measures. Rather, the circumstances of each situation are considered on a case by case basis.

Guidance for the Discipline Policy:

1.  In order to maintain public confidence in the ability of the Police Bureau to investigate and properly address legitimate complaints concerning employee conduct and performance, a broad range of tools are available to set expectations, issue corrective action, and institute discipline. The Bureau has a responsibility to impose corrective or disciplinary action warranted by a member’s misconduct or policy violation.

2.  The Bureau’s philosophy with respect to corrective action and discipline is the same philosophy that is applied to employees who work elsewhere in the City, which is that corrective and disciplinary action are tools available to assist supervisors in working with employees whose behavior or job performance does not meet the expectations associated with the position they hold. Corrective action or discipline can be used to correct behavior, to deter a violation of policies or procedures, and to hold employees accountable for their behavior or performance. Generally speaking, corrective action or discipline is used to gain the employee’s at­tention, put the employee on notice of unacceptable conduct or performance, and give the employee a reasonable opportunity to correct his or her behavior. Each situation in which corrective action or discipline is considered is unique and will be considered on its own merits.

3.  Before taking corrective action or disciplinary action, the Bureau will conduct an investigation to assist it in determining whether the employee, in fact, engaged in misconduct or performance that is contrary to Bureau expectations, whether the employee knew or should have known better, and if so, whether corrective or disciplinary action is appropriate and fair considering all the circumstances. The Bureau strives to ensure that its investigations are fair and thorough, with truth as its primary objective.

4.  In determining the appropriate level of corrective action or discipline, the totality of the circum­stances surrounding the conduct or performance will be taken into account. The factors identified below are provided as general guidance only, and are not intended to limit the Bureau or to be an all inclusive list. Not all factors come into play in each situation, and one or more may outweigh other factors.

Appropriate Corrective Action or Discipline Factors:

1.  Fault: This factor includes a variety of considerations, including, but not limited to, the totality of circumstances, the potential or actual harm to others or to the agency, and the seriousness of the performance deficiencies, miscon­duct or policy violation.

2.  Prior Warnings: This factor takes into account what has been communi­cated to the employee previously about policy and performance expectations.

3.  Members Acceptance of Responsibility: This factor takes into account the member’s acknowledgement of the issue and whether the member accepts responsibly for his or her behavior and any actions they have taken to prevent future reoccurrences.

4.  Discipline History: This factor takes into account the member’s prior history of corrective action or discipline.

Procedure:

1.  Case Review and Findings:

1.1.  When an administrative investigation is complete, Internal Affairs will send the case file to the member’s Responsibility Unit Manager for review and recommended findings.  Findings will be one of the following:

1.1.1.  Unfounded: The allegation was false or devoid of fact or there was not a credible basis for a possible violation of policy or procedure. A finding of unfounded is a high threshold and requires a high level of certainty that there is no factual basis for the allegation or no credible basis that the allegation could constitute a violation of policy or procedure.  

1.1.2.  Exonerated: The act occurred, but was lawful and within policy.

1.1.3.  Not Sustained: The evidence was insufficient to prove a violation of policy or procedure.

1.1.4.  Sustained: The evidence was sufficient to prove a violation of policy or procedure. 

1.2.  Debriefings may be recommended for unfounded, exonerated, and not sustained findings when the Responsibility Unit Manager believes the subject employee would benefit from a discussion and critique of the incident. 

2.  Responsibility Unit Manager Responsibilities:

2.1.  Upon receipt of an administrative investigation for review, within fourteen (14) days the Responsibility Unit Manager will:

2.1.1.  Review the investigation,

2.1.2.  Complete a findings memorandum using the Finding Template provided by Internal Affairs, recommending a finding for each allegation, listing all members who should have entries on their Internal Affairs records and articulate the rationale for each finding. The finding(s) must cite to the appropriate directive.

2.1.3.  Contact the Discipline Coordinator and prepare a Discipline Recommendation Memorandum in cases where the Responsibility Unit Manager has made a recommendation to sustain any of the allegations.

2.1.4.  Attach a Findings Cover Sheet listing the findings and containing any recommendation for the Police Review Board.

2.1.5.  Forward the case file, recommended finding memorandum, Discipline Recommendation Memorandum, draft Letter of Reprimand, if appropriate, and Findings Cover Sheet to the appropriate assistant chief.

2.1.6.  An exception to the fourteen (14) day time limit may be granted by the Professional Standards Division Captain. Any exception shall be documented in writing and submitted, along with the findings memorandum to Internal Affairs.

2.1.7.  Responsibility Unit Managers may recommend a bifurcation of the findings that were not part of the complainant’s allegation(s), but were uncovered during the administrative investigation. If the bifurcated findings consist of minor policy violations or quality of service, they need not be sustained as part of that investigation, but may be handled as a debriefing. If the new find­ings are more serious, the Responsibility Unit Manager may send the case back for additional investigation, if necessary, or make a recommendation on the new finding.

2.1.8.  Before making a corrective action or disciplinary recommendation, the Responsibility Unit Manager will refer to and follow the Discipline Guide.

3.  Assistant Chief Responsibilities:

3.1.  Within seven (7) days of the receipt of the Responsibility Unit Manager’s recommendations, the appropriate assistant chief or his or her designee will:

3.1.1.  Review the Responsibility Unit Manager’s recommendations for findings, corrective action, or discipline if any, before discussing the recommendation with the Responsibility Unit Manager as appropriate. The Responsibility Unit Manager retains the right to stand on his or her recommendation. 

3.1.2.  Decide whether to concur or controvert the proposed findings and document this decision on the Findings Cover Sheet. 

3.1.3.  Return the case file to the Professional Standards Division Captain or designee.

4.  Professional Standards Division Captain Responsibilities:

4.1.  Within seven (7) days of receipt of the Responsibility Unit Manager’s recommendations, the Professional Standards Division Captain or his or her designee will:

4.1.1.  Send a copy of the case file to the Independent Police Review Division Director for his or her review. 

4.1.2.  Review the Responsibility Unit Manager’s recommendations for findings and corrective action, if any, before discussing the recommendation with the Responsibility Unit Manager as appropriate. The Responsibility Unit Manager retains the right to stand on his or her recommendation. 

4.1.3.  Complete the Findings Cover Sheet. 

5.  Independent Police Review Division Director Responsibilities:

5.1.  Within seven (7) days of receipt of the Responsibility Unit Manager’s recommendations, the Independent Police Review Division Director or his or her designee will:

5.1.1.  Review the Responsibility Unit Manager’s recommendations for findings, corrective action, or discipline, if any. 

5.1.2.  Complete the Findings Cover Sheet and return it to the Professional Standards Division Captain.   

6.  Findings:

6.1.  If a finding of the Responsibility Unit Manager is controverted, the case will be heard by the Police Review Board in accordance with Directive 336.00, Police Review Board.

6.2.  If the finding is other than sustained, the Professional Standards Division Captain or designee will close the case by preparing a disposition letter to the complainant and the subject member, which the Independent Police Review Division will review before mailing.

6.3.  If the finding is sustained, further procedure will depend on the level of discipline recommended. 

7.  Corrective Action or Discipline Less Than Suspension:

7.1.  Professional Standards Division Captain Responsibilities:

7.1.1.  Refer all cases where proposed corrective action or discipline is less than suspension to the subject member’s Responsibility Unit Manager to implement the corrective action or discipline.

7.1.2.  Keep original copies of all case files. 

7.1.3.  Provide Corrective Action Coordinator with a copy of the Internal Affairs case file to coordinate with subject member’s Responsibility Unit Manager to implement the corrective action or discipline.  

7.2.  Responsibility Unit Manager and Appropriate Assistant Chief Responsibilities:

7.2.1.  The Responsibility Unit Manager, in consultation with the Discipline Coordinator, will prepare the proposed corrective action or discipline and other documentation as appropriate.

7.2.2.  The appropriate assistant chief will review the Responsibility Unit Manager’s recommended action and upon approval return the documentation to the Discipline Coordinator, so he or she may coordinate all corrective action or discipline with the Responsibility Unit Manager.

7.2.3.  The Responsibility Unit Manager will meet with the member and review the incident. If the Responsibility Unit Manager is imposing Command Counseling, the Responsibility Unit Manager will outline the expectations in the meeting with the member. If the Responsibility Unit Manager is proposing a Letter of Reprimand, the Responsibility Unit Manager will impose the corrective action or discipline by serving the member with the letter.

7.2.4.  If the discipline is a Letter of Reprimand, the member can request a meeting with his or her assistant chief.

7.2.5.  The Responsibility Unit Manager will forward the Discipline Memorandum to the Discipline Coordinator, who will forward it to the appropriate assistant chief.

7.2.6.  The Discipline Coordinator will forward a copy of the corrective action or discipline taken to the Personnel Division.

8.  Discipline of Suspension Or Greater:

8.1.  All cases in which recommended discipline is suspension or greater will be heard by the Police Review Board. The Police Review Board Facilitator will draft a recommendation for findings and discipline to the Chief. Police Review Board procedures are outlined in Directive 336.00, Police Review Board.

8.2.  Professional Standards Division Captain Responsibilities:

8.2.1.  Refer all cases where proposed discipline is suspension or greater, or any of the findings are controverted, to the Police Review Board Coordinator to schedule a Police Review Board hearing.

8.2.2.  File original copies of all case files.   

8.2.3.  At the conclusion of the Police Review Board hearing, draft a letter to the complainant explaining the disposition of each applicable allegation in the complaint and submit the letter to Independent Police Review to be mailed to the complainant. This letter will not contain information about the discipline imposed. 

8.3.  Discipline Coordinator Responsibilities:

8.3.1.  Notify the subject member, at least fourteen (14) days in advance, when the case is set for a Police Review Board hearing and allow the member to review the case file, including findings.

8.4.  Subject Member Responsibilities:

8.4.1.  In cases to be heard by the Police Review Board, members subjected to the proposed discipline may review the case file prior to the hearing. 

8.4.2.  Members may be accompanied by a bargaining unit attorney or a bargaining unit representative during case file review and the Police Review Board hearing.

8.4.3.  In cases where the Police Review Board recommends a member be disciplined, the member may request a due process hearing with the Chief of Police prior to the Chief’s final decision. This hearing is the member’s opportunity to discuss the case with the Chief, as well as any mitigating factors the member wishes to present. The member’s Responsibility Unit Manager and bargaining unit representative may also address the Chief during the due process hearing. 

8.5.  Chief of Police Responsibilities:

8.5.1.  Review and evaluate the Police Review Board’s recommended findings and recommendations for corrective action or discipline, if any. 

8.5.2.  A due process hearing will be held after an appeal is resolved by the Citizen Review Committee.

8.5.3.  Determine the appropriate course of corrective action or discipline. In cases where the recommended discipline is demotion or discharge, make a discipline recommendation to the Commissioner in Charge. 

9.  Debriefings:

9.1.  In cases where the final disposition recommends a debriefing, the subject member’s Responsibility Unit Manager will conduct the debriefing and document it in a memorandum to the Professional Standards Division Captain. 

History:

  • Originating Directive Effective: 10/30/14
  • Next Review Date: 4/30/15
  • Review By: Professional Standards Division