121 – Field Operations Night Commander
The Field Operations night commander is responsible for the initial response to all law enforcement activities of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) during his or her duty hours. He or she is responsible for the effective management of all law enforcement activities and reports directly to the Patrol Bureau commander.
The Field Operations night commander shall work closely with the district and division commanders and provide feedback on observed employee issues affecting job performance, observed violations of policy or procedures, and recommendations concerning additional training, etc.
While the district and division commanders are responsible for their entire district or division, the Field Operations night commander is the overall commander during his or her duty hours and has the authority and responsibility to take immediate and appropriate action when required or necessary to achieve the goals of the HCSO. [CALEA Standards 11.3.1 a & 11.3.2]
The standards by which the Field Operations night commander shall judge the performance of personnel are embodied in law (both statutory and case law), memoranda of understanding (MOUs), HCSO Department Policy, Patrol Bureau policy and procedures, all other bureau directives, the HCSO Mission Statement, Core Values, and the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics.
The Field Operations night commander is the highest ranking supervisor on duty during the night watch. He or she must consider how the impact of his or her decisions affects the interests of the HCSO and its members, his or her areas of responsibility, and the citizens the agency serves. [CALEA Standard 11.3.1 a]
The Field Operations night commander is responsible for the professionalism and proper conduct of the deputies in the discharge of their duties and:
- Is directly responsible for all law enforcement activities during his or her duty hours. He or she is responsible for the equitable enforcement of the laws of the State of Texas and compliance with the policies and procedures outlined in HCSO policy, Patrol Bureau SOP, and the Harris County Personnel Regulations. [CALEA Standard 11.3.1 a]
- Is responsible for the proper, safe, and effective use of Harris County / HCSO resources assigned to the deputies working during his or her duty hours.
- Is responsible for the complete work product generated during his or her tour of duty in order to achieve the agency’s mission.
- Is responsible for the safety and morale of deputies assigned during his or her duty hours. He or she has the responsibility of coordinating with the district and division commander(s) on issues that may affect morale.
- Since the Field Operations night commander is ultimately responsible for the initial patrol response to all critical incidents, crime scenes, and significant events, he or she shall consider his or her presence at these events as mandatory until properly relieved by the appropriate unit / division responding on scene commander. These scenes include, but are not limited to, the following examples:
- Incidents involving serious injury to any member of the HCSO,
- Incidents involving serious injury to any prisoner,
- Incidents involving the use of force in an arrest where serious injury has occurred,
- All SWAT / SRG scenes,
- Any barricaded suspect or hostage scene,
- All officer-involved shootings,
- Fatal crashes,
- Incidents resulting in the significant damage to or loss of HCSO property,
- All pursuits involving the use of HCSO vehicles, and
- Incidents where gatherings of citizens involved in social, political, or mass demonstrations may escalate into a potential situation of social unrest.
- Initiate administrative investigations into alleged or observed misconduct by HCSO personnel working during his or her tour of duty. If the alleged or observed misconduct is of a minor nature, he or she shall forward the allegations to the employee’s district or division commander who will then decide the appropriate action to be taken.
- Make public appearances on behalf of the Sheriff or bureau commanders.
- Represent the Sheriff, chief deputy, assistant chief deputies, or bureau commanders at various community meetings, town hall meetings, general law enforcement meetings, etc. [CALEA Standard 12.1.2 a]
The Field Operations night commander must have confidence in him- or herself and in his or her personnel in order to delegate authority appropriately. However, he or she must remember that the responsibility for accomplishing assigned tasks remains at all times with him or her and cannot be delegated. He or she has an important responsibility to coordinate employee issues with the appropriate district or division commander.
This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:
June 25, 2013
September 25, 2015
March 16, 2017
April 18, 2017