Know Your Rights Before You Are Wronged!
I get a lot of calls from LEOs experiencing issues at work. I recognize that each situation is extremely serious to the LEO. I still remember how a bad boss or supervisor can sap the morale out of a LEO and the entire department!
I always ask the LEO two questions. First, “Are you a member of the Fraternal Order of Police Legal Defense Plan? Second, what are your rights in your agency? Hopefully the answer to the first question is “Yes” so you will have the ability and resources to retain legal counsel. I am surprised that the answer to the second question is almost always, “I have no idea!” That is a frightening response.
In some situations, your rights come from collective bargaining agreements while in others, you may have due process protection through a state Peace Officer’s Bill of Rights. However, even in those situations, you must read the agreement or statute to know what to expect and how to trigger the protections afforded to you. In other departments, LEOs may be covered by a civil service or merit system that sets out procedures that must be followed prior to the implementation of discipline. You can learn about these procedures by reading the rules of your agency and the rules of the civil service or merit system. The rules set out critical appeal processes that must be followed.
For LEOs who have no such protection, do not forget that your agency must still follow state and federal law such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. If you believe you have been treated unfairly, act quickly and speak with a lawyer!
Like any other game you may play, you must read the rules before you enter the arena.