Disciplinary Matrix

Purpose

This procedure outlines the guidelines and expectations for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Administrative Disciplinary Committee’s response to sustained complaints against employees. A discipline matrix aims to achieve consistency in discipline and eliminate the appearance of disparity. This matrix does not remove discretion; it provides a range of possible sanctions, thus providing transparency.

Procedure

This matrix lists the most common Department Policy violations. It then provides sanction categories A through E. The least punitive sanctions are category A, with the sanctions becoming more significant as the categories progress to category E.

Each category lists recommended guidelines for sanctions. These guidelines are based on comparable sanctions for each violation. There are violations that are not covered in this matrix. There is expectation that employees will follow all policies. For violations not specified within this matrix, the Administrative Disciplinary Committee (ADC) will determine the sanctions.

After an allegation has been sustained, the ADC will perform the following steps:

  1. Select a presumptive penalty consistent with the category,
  2. Consider mitigating and aggravating factors, and
  3. Agree or vote on the final discipline.

Category A

Conduct violation in a single incident that has a minimal negative impact on the operations or reputation of the HCSO. Sanctions in this category are not considered discipline.

Sanction guidelines may include:

• Verbal Counseling
• Documented Counseling
• Employee Referral

A single sanction or a combination of the above listed sanctions may be deemed appropriate.

Training and Probation can be ordered in conjunction with any sanction listed.

Category B

Violations that have more than minimal impact on the operations or reputation of the HCSO or that negatively impact relationships with other employees, agencies, or the public.

Sanction guidelines may include:

• Verbal Counseling
• Documented Counseling
• Employee Referral
• Letter of Reprimand
• Suspension for 8 to 72 hours

A single sanction or a combination of the above listed sanctions may be deemed appropriate.

Training and Probation may be ordered in conjunction with any sanction listed.

Category C

Violations that have a pronounced negative impact on the operations or reputation of the HCSO or on relationships with other employees, agencies, or the public.

Sanction guidelines may include:

• Letter of Reprimand
• Suspension for 72 to 120 hours

A single sanction or a combination of the above listed sanctions may be deemed appropriate.

Training and Probation may be ordered in conjunction with any sanction listed.

Category D

Violations that are contrary to the core values of the HCSO or that involve a substantial risk of officer or public safety.

Sanction guidelines may include:

• Suspension for 120 to 360 hours
• Reduction in rank
• Termination

Training and Probation may be ordered in conjunction with any sanction listed.

Category E

Violations that are contrary to the core values of the of the HCSO. This includes acts of serious misconduct or of criminal conduct. This also involves any conduct that will effectively disqualify an employee from continued employment.

Sanction guidelines may include:

• Suspension for minimum of 360 to 480 hours
• Reduction in rank
• Termination

Training and Probation may be ordered in conjunction with any sanction listed.

The matrix categories may not be sequentially followed in cases where there may be multiple violations or in cases where there are particularly egregious circumstances. The matrix is considered a guideline only and it is within the Sheriff’s discretion to deviate from the matrix based on the individual case.

The Matrix

Department Manual categories skipped have not had recent previous discipline associated.

#Category
202Discrimination in the WorkplaceABCDE
 A. RetaliationXXX
 B. DiscriminationXX
 C. HarassmentXX
203Sexual Harassment and MisconductABCDE
 IV. Sexual HarassmentX
 V. Sexual MisconductX
 VI. Reporting ProceduresXX
204Drug and Alcohol PolicyABCDE
 III. C. Possession, distribution, or sale of alcohol or illegal drugs while on dutyX
 III. C. Possession, distribution, or sale of alcohol or illegal drugs while on county propertyX
 III. C. Possession, distribution, or sale of alcohol or illegal drugs while operating or riding in a county vehicleX
 IV. Refusal to submit to drug or alcohol testX
 XII. Failed drug or alcohol testX
208Sick LeaveABCDE
 Abuse of sick timeXXXX
 Feigning sicknessXX
231Internal InvestigationsABCDE
 F. Failure to CooperateX
240Dress CodeXX
241County PropertyABCDE
 IV. A. Shall not alter or repair, remove parts or accessories from county propertyXXX
 IV. B. Willful or negligent abuse or destruction to county propertyXXX
303Conduct ProhibitedABCDE
 D. 1. Acceptance of BribesX
 D. 2. Criticism of Official ActsXXXXX
 D. 3. Disorderly ConductXXXX
 D. 4. Emergency Equipment on POVXXX
 D. 5. Fraternization and Socialization ProhibitedXXX
 D. 6. General BehaviorXXXXX
 D. 7. IndebtednessXX
 D. 8. Representation of SupervisorsXX
 D. 9. Solicitation of Free Admissions, Favored   Treatment, Services, or MerchandiseXX
 D. 10. Threatening, Abusive, Vulgar, or Insulting LanguageXXXX
 D. 11. Inaccurate CommunicationsXXXXX
 D. 12. Intentionally Making a False StatementXXX
 D. 13. Intentionally Making a False Official StatementX
 D. 14. Incurring Indebtedness Against the Sheriff or Harris CountyXXX
 D. 15. Interference with Criminal Justice SystemXX
 D. 16. Recommendation of Lawyers or Bail BondsmanX
 D. 17. Removal of RecordsXXX
 D. 18. Sleeping on DutyXX
 D. 19. Solicitation or Acceptance of Rewards, Loans, or GiftsXXXX
 D. 20. Soliciting InfluenceX
 D. 21. Use of Official CorrespondenceXX
 D. 22. Use of Official HCSO Emblems or LogoXX
 D. 23. Tampering with EvidenceXXX
 D. 24. Conflict of Interest – Multiple CommissionsX
 D. 25. Release of Confidential InformationXXXXX
 D. 26. Violation of LawsXX
 D. 27. Driving While Intoxicated    X
 D. 28. Phone UsageXX
303Additional Acts of Improper ConductABCDE
 E. 1. IncompetenceXXXX
 E. 2. InefficiencyXX
 E. 3. InsubordinationXXXX
 E. 4. Intoxication while on dutyX
 E. 5. Neglect of dutyXXXX
  E. 6. Negligent or willful misuse, loss, or damage of supplies, equipment, or public propertyXX
 E. 7. Fraud in securing appointmentXXX
 E. 8. DishonestyXXX
  E. 9. Drug use or addiction to illegal drugs or substancesX
 E. 10. Conviction of a misdemeanor or felonyX
 E. 11. Verbal abuse of a detaineeXXXX
 E. 12. Physical abuse of a detainee    X
  E. 13. Failure to meet requirements for licensure by TCOLEXX
  E. 14. Failure to achieve and maintain weapons proficiencyXXX
 E. 15. Willful violation of any of the rules set forth by the Department Manual or any applicable directive of a bureau or divisionXXXX
304Obedience to OrdersABCDE
 II. A. Obeying ordersXXXX
 II. B. Violation, or willful disregard, of any lawful regulation or order made and given by a supervisor XXXX
305Performance of DutyABCDE
 A. Attention to DutyXX
 B. CowardiceXXXX
 C. Discharge of DutiesXXX
 D. EfficiencyXX
 E. Failure to Perform DutyXXXX
 F. Harmony and CooperationXX
 G. Specific DutiesX
306AttendanceABCDE
 C. TardinessXX
 D. Duty HoursXX
 E.  PunctualityXX
 F.  Absence without proper leaveXXX
 G. Excessive AbsenteeismXXXXX
307Supervisor ResponsibilityXXX
308Duty to Safeguard Persons and PropertyABCDE
 A. Employee who has custody shall be responsible for the proper safeguarding of the person and propertyXX
 B. Shall not use offensive, demeaning, or uncomplimentary terms of speech, threatening, or vulgar language when speaking or referring to a prisoner or inmateXXXX
309Electronic Media UsageXX
310Political ActivitiesXX
312TestimonyABCDE
 B. Handling Subpoenas and NotificationXX
 C. AttireXX
 D. Court AttendanceXXX
 F. Compliance with SubpoenasXXX
317Social MediaXXXX
501Use of ForceABCDE
 Section V. Use of Force
 A. Unreasonable ForceXXX
 B. Directed ForceXXX
 F. AutomobilesXXX
 Section VII. Duties and Responsibilities
 Duty to InterveneXXX
 Duty to Render AidXXXX
 Reporting Use of ForceXXXX
 D.  Reporting Observed Use of ForceXXXX
 E. 1. Supervisor Reporting XXXX
502Less-Lethal Impact and Restraining DevicesXX
503Use of Conducted Electrical Device (CED)ABCDE
 IV. Training – Failure to recertifyXX
 VIII. Improper Use of TASER (CED)XX
 X. Supervisor ResponsibilitiesXXX
 XI. Improper Care of CEDXX
504Use of Chemical WeaponsABCDE
 II. 2. Failure to complete trainingXX
 III D. Use affecting innocent bystandersXX
 III E. RestrictionsXX
505Use and Discharge of FirearmsABCDE
 III. A. Line of DutyXXX
 III. B. Endangering Public/Reckless DischargeXXX
 III. C. Moving VehiclesXXX
 III. E. Supervisor ResponsibilitiesXXX
 IV. Warning ShotsX
 V. Display of FirearmX
 VI. Reporting Discharge of FirearmXX
506Arrest ProceduresXX
507Search ProceduresXXXX
508Bias-Based ProfilingXXX
601ReportsABCDE
 Failure to complete report XXXX
 Fail to complete report in a timely manner XXXX
 Fail to obtain supervisor authority to complete late report XXXX
 Supervisor failure to review and approve reports in a timely manner XXXX
618Body-Worn CameraABCDE
 IV. A. 2. BWC ResponsibilitiesXXXX
 IV. A. 3. Removal, dismantle, or tampered with hardware or software of BWCXXXX
 IV. A. 4. Edit, alter, erase, copy, duplicate, distributed recordingsXXX
 IV. A. 6. copied or photographed images from BWCXX
 IV. A. 7. BWC video converted for personal useXXX
 IV. C. Supervisor ResponsibilitiesXXX
 V. B. Deactivation of BWCXXX
 VI. Improper use of BWCXX
801Operation of County VehiclesXXX
803PursuitsXXX
CJC-220Inmate ObservationABCDE
 III. B. Missed or late observation roundXXXX 
 III. B. Missed or late observation round resulting in injury, death, or other consequence of neglect   XX
 III. C. (11) Intentionally falsifying observation round    X

Sanction Options by ADC

These levels are not considered formal discipline:

  1. Training,
  2. Verbal counseling,
  3. Employee referrals,
  4. Letters of reprimand, and
  5. Documented counseling.

The levels below are considered formal discipline and are placed in the employee’s personnel file:

  1. Suspension,
  2. Termination, and
  3. Reduction in rank.

Extra Employment Suspension

In addition to the above sanction options, violations which are directly or indirectly related to extra employment may result in suspension of such privileges. These cases include:

  1. Working extra employment listed as unapproved,
  2. Working extra employment after it has been denied by a supervisor,
  3. If an allegation relating to unprofessional behavior is sustained against an employee for an incident which occurred during extra employment,
  4. Repeatedly sleeping on duty, and
  5. Abuse of sick time or excessive absenteeism.

NOTE: Extra employment may also be suspended for any reason described in Policy #244 – Extra Employment.

Multiple Violations

In cases where there are multiple policy violations within a single investigation, each with a different sanction, the ADC should only pick the discipline range from the highest category.

Mitigating and Aggravating Factors

Mitigating factors include, but are not limited to;

  • Tenure,
  • Necessity,
  • Unintentional,
  • Mistake of facts,
  • Ordered by supervisor,
  • Employee new to the assignment,
  • Efforts were made to correct the problem,
  • Acts would not have come to light without self-report, and
  • “Substitution Test” – Could this have happened to anyone else in the same situation?

Aggravating factors include, but are not limited to;

  • Disciplinary history over the past five years,
  • Delayed report or attempt to cover-up,
  • High degree of operational impact,
  • Uncooperative with investigation,
  • Constitutional implications,
  • High value or dollar loss,
  • Personal motive,
  • Intentional act,
  • Repeated act,
  • Conspiracy, and
  • Deception.

Probationary Employees

This matrix may not apply to new employees whose employment status is subject to their original probation period.