Recently, I had my first run in with the new NOPD disciplinary policies. I want to repeat the advice I commonly give to FOP members: CALL YOUR FOP ATTORNEY FOR ANY DISCIPLINARY INVESTIGATION WHETHER A WITNESS OR ACCUSED.
On May 15, 2016, several new “chapters” were placed in effect by NOPD. The new policies caused changes to both the disciplinary procedure and the penalty matrix. See my prior article about the changes here.
The new penalty matrix assigns a letter, A-G, to each of the rules — A offenses are the least severe and G offenses are the most severe. Professionalism (R.3P.1) is an A offense – Letter of Reprimand territory. Honesty and Truthfhlness (R2.P.3) is a G offense – mandatory dismissal.
There are a couple of confusing points to make note of right off the bat.
Rule 4, Paragraph 2, Instructions from an Authoritative Source, was always the go-to rule for any violation of an NOPD policy. Many people were unaware that Rule 4, Paragraph 4(c)(6) is also Instructions from an Authoritative Source. One had a penalty range of Letter of Reprimand to 3-day suspension and one had a penalty range of Letter of Reprimand to 5-day suspension. To make things as confusing as possible, several things have happened with Instructions from an Authoritative Source.
First, in the previous iteration of the penalty matrix, R.4P.4(b) was Supervisory Responsibility and R.4P.4(c) was Enumerated Offenses. For some unknown reason, the new policy switched paragraphs b and c. So, now R.4P.4(b) is Enumerated Offenses and R.4P.4(c) is Supervisory Responsibility.
Further, R.4P.2, Instructions from an Authoritative Source is now a “C” offense on the penalty matrix (2-10 days). R.4P.4(b)(6) Instructions from an Authoritative Source is now a “B” offense (Letter of Reprimand-2 days). The thought process is that the R.4P.2 Instructions is more akin to intentional insubordination as opposed to R.4P.4(b)(6) Instructions which is a negligent or unintentional violation of a rule or policy. Of course, as mentioned above, it is going to take some time to settle into the new interpretation of these rules.
Confusing? That is why no officer should be without the representation provided by their FOP attorney. Pick up the phone and call, no matter how minor the case appears to be.