108 – Unity of Command

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I.  Purpose

For an organization to function effectively, mandates should be formulated to denote which person is ultimately responsible for the actions of subordinates. There is a necessity to advise employees whom they will be accountable to as well as for what they will be accountable.

II.  Policy

A.  Command Authority: That authority necessary to operate the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and ensure the agency’s work is handled in a professional manner. Command authority shall not be confused with police authority derived from the law enforcement commission.

B.  Unity of Command: Each person in the HCSO is accountable to only one immediate supervisor

C.  All command authority is derived from authority given to the Sheriff by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas. Command authority is delegated to each supervisor in the HCSO by his or her immediate supervisor. Command authority may also be delegated to non-supervisory personnel when necessary. In conjunction with the delegated authority, guidelines must be established for the accountability of any actions taken or not taken.

1.  At all levels within the organization, the administration has delegated to all personnel the amount of authority necessary to make decisions for the effective execution of their position’s responsibilities.

2.  Each employee shall be accountable for his or her delegated authority when taking action or the failure to take action when required.

III.  Procedure

A.  Each employee shall know the identity of his or her immediate supervisor and / or immediate subordinate(s).

1.  Each organizational component and subcomponent shall be under the direct command of only one supervisor.

2.  There may be situations when a supervisor gives a command or order to an employee who is not within that supervisor’s chain of command. When this occurs, the employee shall obey the command (Reference: Policy 304, “Obedience to Orders,” Section I).

B.  The adherence of official communications (verbal or written) to the chain of command is mandatory at all times, whether up or down.

1.  All intra-department memoranda or correspondence submitted to the Sheriff or his or her designee will be forwarded through the chain of command with the least possible delay. The memorandum will be initialed by each supervisor in the chain of command.

2.  No person, regardless of rank or position, has the authority to stop, or otherwise detain, any memorandum or other correspondence directed up or down the chain of command.


This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

April 21, 2009

June 17, 2009

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