As most officers are aware, the NOPD has interpreted the consent decree as requiring they investigate absolutely every allegation, no matter what it is. I have seen formal disciplinary investigations of officers alleged to have “smirked,” “sighed loudly,” and “made go-golly eyes.”
Most of these investigations are receiving the appropriate disposition at the conclusion of the investigation. However, one thing that I have noticed is that officers are being sustained for other, minor, administrative violations.
For example, one common sustained violation is for failing to complete an FIC card. Officers should be aware that they are required to complete FIC entries on individuals they come into contact with regardless of whether that person is arrested, cited, or merely interviewed. In the past, officers were not required to complete FIC’s for individuals who were arrested or cited. Why complete an FIC when the information is being documented in-depth in an incident report? The short answer is that the information, particularly arrested subjects versus not arrested subjects has to be maintained separately. In any event, the current rule requires an FIC whether an incident report is completed or not. Just the other day, I was involved with an investigation where an officer, who was not initially accused of anything, was sustained for failing to complete an FIC.
Next is detail forms and the detail database. As we are all well aware, the consent decree has made a total mess of the paid detail system. Who really knows if we are coming or going with anything regarding details? It is a disaster. The only upside is that hopefully this disaster will lead to pay raises (we’re working on it). In any event, if you are working a paid detail that is not being managed by OPSE, you still need to have an NOPD Paid Detail Authorization form in for that detail. Even if you are working an OPSE detail, you still need to call the dispatcher and get an item number, etc., when you get to the detail and you still need to enter that item number and other information into the detail self-reporting database the next time you are at work. If there is a complaint regarding a detail, no matter what the complaint is, you can rest assured that PIB is going to check the detail authorization and the database in the course of the investigation.
Finally, I would like to point out FOB Policy 39. FOB Policy 39 requires platoon sergeants to monitor how long calls have been holding and make call backs to complainants on any call holding more than 60 minutes. I have seen a marked increase in the number of investigations alleging violations of FOB Policy 39. I understand that this is a tall order when there is one sergeant, one desk officer, and two officers on the street. However, when the complaint comes in that someone is upset they had to wait 3 or more hours for the police to arrive, you can rest assured that will be one of the first things PIB checks. Sergeants have the option of asking the desk officer to make the call backs, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the sergeant to monitor the length of times calls are holding. That being said, I would keep an eye out for potential revisions to that policy that may require a more active part on behalf of the desk officer. As it stands today, it is the sergeants responsibility. Make sure that everything that is done in this regard is relayed to the dispatcher so that it is included on the complaint history for that item and is recorded on the dispatch channel.
UPDATE: I would also like to mention MVU’s. Just because you have those pretty body cameras does not mean that you do not have to worry about the in-car dash cams. If you have an MVU that does not work for whatever reason, or you were never issued a USB key, please note that on your Trip Sheet every time. It may not suffice to note it once. When you get in a car, make sure to check the functionality of the dash cam every time. If it is full, note it on your Trip Sheet. If the front camera is missing, that does not mean that the cameras do not work. Note it on your Trip Sheet. Notify your supervisor. Do it every day. If the camera works, use it as described in the policy. This is another thing that investigators routinely check in the course of a DI-1 investigation.