Trinity Valley Community College

   
Trinity Valley Community College Police

Stewart Newby

Director of Campus Police and Public Safety

Student Union Building - 1st Floor
100 Cardinal Dr.
Athens, TX 75751


Phone: (903) 675-6235
Fax:  (903) 675-6296

Palestine: (903) 221-4717
Terrell:  (469) 652-9763
Kaufman: (972) 932-3094

 





 

EMPLOYEE COMPLAINTS
I.             POLICY
 
The Trinity Valley Community Police Department must provide a formal internal system for the processing of complaints relative to department operations, policies and procedures, and the conduct of personnel. The character and the reputation of the Police Department rest on an adequate program of fair and impartial investigations. The purpose of this order is to establish policy  and delineate its authority, duties, and standard operating procedures.
 
II.            PURPOSE
 
The purpose of this directive is to establish guidelines applicable to the receipt, investigation, and documentation of complaints of employee misconduct received from sources outside the department or initiated within the department.
 
III.           SCOPE
  1. It is the policy of the TVCC Police Department to courteously receive and investigate complaints concerning misconduct of its officers.   This complaint investigation procedure is established to provide an orderly, effective, and efficient process for receiving and investigating complaints against all officers (as defined in the Code of Conduct) and to properly report the results of such investigations.  A complaint against an officer may be lodged by any person in or outside the Police Department. The investigation of allegations of misconduct, other than illegal acts, committed by officers shall be considered an administrative investigation. 
It is the explicit intent of this policy that in every instance when an allegation of misconduct is made against any officer that could result in disciplinary action, a supervisor shall complete a written statement to record the complaint and to initiate the investigation process.
 
This policy does not apply to:
  1. Routine corrective action taken by a supervisor that does not result in disciplinary action is a primary duty of the supervisor and is not considered a complaint covered by this policy.Review and evaluation of the performance of an officer and any resulting disciplinary action taken against an officer for unsatisfactory work performance.
     
  2. Performance review and evaluation is not considered a complaint and is not covered by this policy, however, disciplinary action resulting from unsatisfactory work performance may be appealed per General Order 214.00.
IV.          DEFINITIONS
 
A.     Complaint - An allegation from any source of circumstances amounting to a specific act or omission which,
         if proven true, would amount to employee misconduct.
 
B.     Misconduct - An act or omission by an officer, which if proven true, would normally result in some form of
        discipline, sanction, or remediation. This would include, but not be limited to:
  1. Commission of a criminal act;
     
  2. Neglect of duty;
     
  3. Violation of policy, procedure, rule or regulation; and/or
     
  4. Conduct which may reflect unfavorably upon the officer and/or the agency.
 
C.     Disciplinary Action - When an officer is issued a written reprimand, demoted, suspended without pay, or
         terminated from employment as a result of his/her misconduct.
 
V.     SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES
 
A.     The primary responsibility for maintaining  and reinforcing employee conformance with the standards of
         conduct of this department is with the employee and first line supervisors.
 
  1. Supervisors shall familiarize themselves with their subordinate employees and closely observe their general conduct and appearance. Supervisors should be alert for indications of behavioral problems or changes that may affect an employee’s normal job performance. Such information should be documented by the supervisor.   Where a supervisor perceives that an employee may be having or causing problems, the supervisor should assess the situation and determine the most appropriate action.  
     
  2. A supervisor may recommend additional training to refresh and reinforce an employee’s skills.  Counseling may be used by a supervisor to determine the extent of any personal or job problems that may be affecting performance. Counseling may also be used to offer assistance and guidance or to discuss minor and infrequent rule violations and to discuss the substance and importance of  the results with the employee.  The supervisor shall document all instances of counseling or additional training used to modify an employee’s behavior.  
     
  3. Minor employee errors or omissions, tactical errors in the field, procedural errors, or work deficiencies that are brought to or come to a supervisor’s attention should be addressed through coaching and counseling, performance evaluations, performance improvement programs, and/or discipline as appropriate.
 
a.     Discipline is to  be reflected on the employee’s annual performance evaluation and may form the basis
        for a performance improvement program.
 
b.     An  employee’s performance evaluation or initiation of a performance improvement program may be 
        based on deficiencies that were not subject to disciplinary action.
 
VI.     INTERNAL AFFAIRS FUNCTION
  1. The Chief of Police will perform and direct internal affairs functions that relate to violations of criminal law. The Director of Human Resources will perform and direct administrative investigations in relation to violations of TVCC policies.  The Chief of Police and the Director of Human Resources  shall assist one another and/or coordinate the investigation into all complaints submitted against Police Department employees.
  2. The Chief of Police or Director of Human Resources will act as the assigned investigator and shall administer the internal affairs function and report directly to the President. 
  3. The Chief of Police and the Director of Human Resources reserves the right to assign any independent investigator (internal or external) as deemed necessary by him/her. When possible, the assigned internal investigator shall be of the same or higher rank than the person being investigated.
 
VII.     SOURCES OF COMPLAINTS
  1. No complaint should be eliminated  or refused  due to  some  arbitrary criteria.   The complaint or notice of an allegation of misconduct should be accepted from any of the following sources:

 

  1. Individual aggrieved person;
     
  2. Third party;
     
  3. Government agency or court proceeding;
     
  4. Anonymous source;
     
  5. News media;
     
  6. Department employee; and/or 
     
  7. Notice of civil claim

2.  Public Notice. The Police Department shall make available to the public information on the procedures
     to be followed in registering complaints against the agency or its employees.

 
VIII.     COMPLAINTS
 
A.     Complaint Receipt. A written statement shall be used to record all complaints received and/or initiated by the
         TVCC Police.
  1. In Person.   A person desiring  to make  a complaint, including allegations of racial profiling, shall be furnished the name and address of the person to whom the complaint should be directed (if other than original receiver).  Individuals filing complaints against peace officers should be advised that Texas law requires complaints be submitted in written form with the complainant’s signature affixed.   (Texas Government Code 614.022)
  2. Written Complaint.  In the event a complaint is communicated by letter, affidavit or other written document, a supervisor shall complete a written statement, specifying the policy, rule, law or regulation  at issue and shall attach the complainant’s original written document.
  3. By E-Mail.  Any Police Departmental employee receiving a complaint by e- mail shall place a copy of the correspondence in a sealed envelope and forward it through their supervisor who shall determine investigative responsibility.
  4. By Telephone. When a complaint is received by phone, the caller shall be advised of this requirement and requested to submit  the complaint in writing. If the complainant declines to put the complaint in writing, refer to #5 below.
  5. Complaint Not In Writing.  If the complainant refuses to put the complaint in writing, it should be explained to the complainant that this will not prevent an investigation from being conducted, but the failure to submit the allegation(s) in writing may cause the matter to be more difficult to process to an effective conclusion.  In instances when a complaint is not received in written form, a supervisor shall record the complaint on a written statement.
  6. Anonymous Complaints.  Anonymous complaints shall be investigated regardless of the manner in which the complaint is received.
  7. Supervisory Initiated  Complaints.  Supervisory or  command personnel  shall initiate a  written  statement when  they have first hand knowledge or reliable information regarding misconduct. 
B.     Routing of Complaints.  Complaints shall be thoroughly, efficiently and expeditiously investigated and 
        forwarded,with recommendations, through the chain of command to the Chief of Police who shall review and
        take appropriate action.
 
C.     Referral to and/or Notification of Supervisor.  Supervisory and command personnel receiving or initiating a
         complaint involvind an officer, not subject to their immediate supervision, shall initiate and forward a Form
         written statement to the affected officer’s supervisor or commander as soon as practical.
 
D.     Notification to Complainant. Written notification shall be sent to the complainant advising them that their
         complaint has been received, shall be investigated and that they shall be contacted personally, if at all
         possible, in the near future to discuss the allegations.  The complainant shall be notified periodically on 
         the status of the complaint investigation. This section does not apply to anonymous complaints.
 
E.     Notification of Affected Officer.   A copy of the written statement must be provided to the affected officer by his
        or her supervisor or assigned investigator within ten (10) calendar days, or as soon as practicable, after the 
        complaint is received.  This must be done before any disciplinary action may be taken against the officer. The 
        officer shall be advised of the complaint and refrain from contacting the complainant in any way which might
        be interpreted as an attempt to discourage the complainant from following through with the complaint.

                    The officer must be advised of and  furnished copies of the complaint procedure, including rights and 
                     responsibilities relative to the investigation, and the supervisor or assigned investigator must obtain a 
                     timed and dated receipt of acknowledgement from the officer.
 
F.     Officer’s Right to Respond.   At the time the officer is furnished a copy of the complaint, the officer must be
         advised of his or her right to respond to the allegations. The response must be submitted in writing at the
         time the officer receives a copy of the written statement.   The officer may waive the right to respond.
 
                     If, during the course of an investigation, additional infractions are discovered, the affected officer shall be
                     afforded the opportunity to respond to these allegations in the same manner as the original complaint.
 
G.     Immediate Suspension.   Officers may be suspended with or without pay for a period of time designated by 
         the Chief of Police and approved by the College President.
 
1.     Suspensions shall be with pay unless the allegations involve serious misconduct in which case the
        Chief of Police, with approval from the College President may suspend without pay.
 
2.     Examples of serious misconduct include, but are not limited to: criminal offenses of the felony grade 
        and Class A and B misdemeanors, direct insubordination, and any conduct which indicates the
        officer is no longer fit for duty. Such as a suspension may be imposed by the Chief of Police and
        approved by the College President or designee. Suspension without pay shall not to exceed thirty
        (30) calendar days in length unless extended as hereinafter provided and such shall be
         communicated in writing to the officer.  The suspension shall expire when administrative action is
         taken against the officer.
 
3.     If, at the conclusion of the administrative investigation, no disciplinary action is taken against the officer,
        back pay shall be restored.
 
                        4.     If, at the conclusion of the administrative investigation, the officer receives a disciplinary suspension, 
                                the previous period of suspension without pay shall have no effect on the duration of the disciplinary
                                suspension imposed.
 
H.     Notification of Suspension.  The officer shall be notified in writing by the Chief of Police or designee of the 
         suspension without undue delay.  The written notice shall include the cause(s) for suspension in sufficient
         detail to reasonably enable the officer to respond to the cause(s).   The notice shall also contain an order 
         informing the officer that he or she is prohibited from taking any law enforcement action during the period
         of suspension.
  
I.     Surrender of Equipment. The suspended officer must surrender all issued uniforms, commission identification
       card, badge(s), and keys.
 
J.     Notification to the President.  When an officer is suspended, the Chief of Police shall be responsible for
        ensuring the appropriate system administrator(s) is/are notified immediately.
 
K.     Reinstatement of Officer.  An officer who was suspended without pay while an administrative investigation
         was being conducted, may be reinstated at the conclusion of the administrative investigation with all
         accumulated pay, if:
 
1.     The allegations are determined to be unfounded or not sustained; and/or
 
2.     The officer is exonerated.
 
Note: The verdict rendered as a result of a criminal or civil action related to the alleged misconduct may or may not impact the reinstatement of the affected officer.
 
IX.     TIME LIMITS FOR ACCEPTING COMPLAINTS
 
A.     Allegations of employee misconduct and personnel complaints shall not be accepted for investigation by
        Internal Affairs more than thirty (30) calendar days after the incident is alleged to have occurred, with the
        following exceptions:
 
1.     When the complaint involves a criminal violation, the criminal statute of limitations shall prevail; 
        however, such limitations shall not prevent the Police Department from accepting the complaint
        or taking disciplinary action deemed necessary to preserve the integrity of the Police Department, 
        for violations of policy or procedure.
  
2.     When the complainant can show good cause for not making the complaint within the specified time
         limit.
 
3.     On  direction of the Chief of Police based on findings of a preliminary investigation.

 
X.     INVESTIGATION
 
A.     Objective.  The Chief of Police and/or Director of Human Resources are responsible for ensuring a complete,
         objective, and expeditious investigation is conducted into all complaints. If, while an investigation is in 
         progress, a resignation is received from the officer under investigation, the Chief of Police and/or Director of
         Human Resources shall determine whether the administrative investigation should continue.
 
B.     Purpose of an Administrative Investigation.  The purpose of an administrative investigation is to seek out the
        facts associated with a complaint to ascertain the truth. The investigator shall make every attempt to conduct 
        an  investigation  in a manner that shall prove or disprove the allegations of misconduct rather than leave 
        them unresolved.
 
C.     Criminal Investigation.  Nothing in this policy shall preclude a separate and completely independent criminal 
         investigation of an officer, who is the subject of an active administrative investigation.   If, during the course
         of an administrative investigation, information is received that the officer may have committed a criminal act,
         the investigator(s) shall immediately advise the Director of Human Resources who must then make a 
         decision as to whether the administrative investigation should continue. Once notified, the Director of Human 
         Resources and the Chief of Police shall initiate a separate and completely independent criminal investigation
         when the facts so warrant. When possible, the District Attorney shall be consulted when a criminal 
         investigation is begun.
 
D.     Cooperation.  All officers, including the officer, who is the subject of an administrative complaint investigation,
         shall cooperate fully and answer all questions posed to them during the investigation by authorized
         representatives.
 
1.     Should  any officer refuse to cooperate or answer all questions posed to them during an administrative
        complaint investigation, the officers action shall be deemed insubordination and shall be subject to 
        disciplinary action completely apart from the original complaint.  If an officer refuses to answer the
        questions on the grounds that he might incriminate himself or herself, the investigator(s) shall 
        discontinue any questioning and the shall make a determination as to whether the officer shall be 
        ordered to answer the questions propounded to him.
 
2.     Confidentiality.  Any employee with knowledge gained as a result of an administrative investigation is
         prohibited from divulging that information to any employee involved in any manner with a criminal
         investigation of the same incident.
  
XI.           ADMINISTRATIVE INVESTIGATION INTERVIEW OF ACCUSED
 
A.     Personnel, who are assigned to investigate  complaints involving non- criminal misconduct, shall be required 
        to conduct a thorough, timely, and objective interview of the officer accused of the misconduct.
 
XII.         OFFICIALS APPRISED
 
A.     Chief of Police. The  Chief of Police shall be notified of all complaints against the Police Department and/or its
         employees.
 
B.     The President over the Police Department shall be kept apprised regarding complaint investigations
 
XIII.        WITHDRAWAL OF COMPLAINTS
 
A.     If a complainant expresses the desire to withdraw a complaint and has no desire for the complaint to be 
        pursued further, the complainant, in the presence of a supervisor, shall be requested to sign a written
        statement.
 
B.     All written complaint waivers shall be forwarded to the Chief of Police and Director of Human Resources.
 
C.     In the  event that a complaint has been withdrawn, this does not necessarily terminate the investigation.  
         The decision to terminate the investigation rests with the Chief of Police and/or Director of Human Resources.
 
XIV.        FALSE INFORMATION
 
Whenever it is determined that a complainant has deliberately given false information to the TVCC Police Department which caused an investigation to be conducted, the details shall be presented to the appropriate administrator for an official determination of a final course of action.
 
XV.         DETERMINATION, NOTICE, and DISCIPLINARY ACTION
 
A.     Determination and Notice to Officer.
 
1.     The Chief of Police and the Director of Human Resources or designee, shall be responsible for
         reviewing the investigation and providing a written notification to the officer advising him or her
         of the findings and whether or not disciplinary action is forthcoming in the case. The notification
         should be delivered to the affected officer in person or by certified mail.
 
2.     The notice to the officer shall contain a final conclusion for each allegation as determined.   The final
         report shall contain one or more of the following conclusions:
  • Sustained: The allegation is supported by sufficient evidence;
  • Unfounded:  The allegation is false, not factual;
  • Exonerated:  The incident occurred but was lawful, reasonable, and justified; and/or
  • Not Sustained: There is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation(s).
 
B.     Disciplinary Action.  In instances when the Chief of Police, the Director of Human Resources, or designee,
        determines the complaint is sustained and written reprimand, demotion, suspension without pay, or 
        termination from employment is appropriate, the official disciplinary process shall be followed.
 
C.     Closing the Complaint Process.  The case shall be considered closed upon  a determination by the President, 
         or designee, that the allegation is unfounded or not sustained or the officer is exonerated or if the complaint is
         sustained and disciplinary action is imposed on the officer.
 
D.     Complainant Notification.  After the investigation is completed and final action taken, it shall be the
         responsibility of the Chief of Police and/or Director of Human Resources to provide the complainant a
         letter containing the final results of the investigation and what action was taken.
 
E.     Officer’s Personnel File. A copy of the results of the investigation, including disciplinary action, shall become 
         part of the officer’s personnel file.