212 – Employee Representative Council (ERC)

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I.             Purpose

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) recognizes the value of constructive employee input.  To more efficiently serve the needs of HCSO employees, the Employee Representative Council (ERC) will address employees’ concerns, provide open lines of communication between the Command Staff and all employees, and facilitate the resolution of issues.

This policy encompasses quality-of-life issues and never replaces, affects, or supersedes the current grievance procedures.

II.           Definitions

Division Commander: Division Manager or Captain.

ERC Alternate: An employee elected to act as an alternate or backup to the elected ERC representative and assist them as needed.

ERC Coordinator: An employee who is a member of the Command Staff and appointed by the Sheriff to oversee the ERC process. 

ERC Facilitator: An employee assigned to the ERC section by the ERC Coordinator and charged with administering the ERC process. 

ERC Issue: A concern, issue, or question initiated by any employee affecting HCSO employees and the work environment.  An ERC issue does not include any issue or question that would be appropriately resolved through the grievance process (Civil Service Rule 13).  An ERC issue is categorized as a division or department issue.  A division issue is limited to affecting a division or section within a division.  Department issues have the potential to affect personnel throughout the Sheriff’s Office. 

ERC Representative: Any employee (professional staff or sworn) of the HCSO below the rank of lieutenant and has been elected as the primary representative for a division, shift, unit, or section.

ERC Staff: Personnel assigned to the ERC Section are assigned to facilitate the ERC process. 

Issue Acknowledgement Notification (IAN): A digital notification form used to acknowledge receipt of an ERC issue that is assigned an ERC tracking number. 

Issue Resolution Record (IRR): A digital form documenting ERC issues presented to division managers/captains for resolution.

               Open Forum: A time period in the ERC General Membership Meeting during which ERC representatives can present ERC issues to the Sheriff and Command Staff. (Also see Section IX)

ERC Tracking Database: ERC staff members use it to track issues and resolutions. This database will acknowledge receipt of the problem & issue a tracking number.

General Membership Meeting:  A quarterly meeting consisting of ERC Representatives, Bureau Commanders, Assistant Chief’s, Chief Deputy, and the Sheriff. 

III.          Policy

When an employee has an issue or a concern that cannot be resolved at the first level of authority, the following steps will be taken at the division level:

A.           Submittal and Initial Response to an ERC Issue

1.            The employee will discuss the concern with their shift ERC representative.

2.            The employee will complete an Issue Resolution Record (IRR) digital form in the ERC Application Program stating their issue and the proposed resolution.

3.            The employee will select an ERC representative in their respective work area in a drop-down menu.  Once the employee completes the IRR digital form, they will submit it electronically.

4.            The ERC Database will generate a tracking number for the IRR and forward the issue to the selected ERC representative.

5.            The ERC Tracking Database will electronically notify the ERC representative selected from the IRR and receive an Issue Acknowledgement Notification (IAN) digital form via e-mail.

6.            The ERC representative will review the ERC Issue through the ERC Application Program and determine if it is an ERC issue. Once the ERC issue is valid, they will forward the IRR to the Division Commander.

B.           First Resolution

The Division Commander has five (5) working days from the date of receipt of the IRR to provide a reply to the ERC Representative for either the solution provided by the issuer of the IRR or provide a solution of their own to the ERC issue through the ERC Application Program.

The ERC Representative then has three (3) working days to consult with the employee who issued the IRR if they agree with the solution. If this eight-day time frame is not met, the ERC Facilitator or designee will contact the representative or Division Commander regarding the delay through the ERC Application Program and via e-mail and document such in the notes section of the program.

The Division Commander will review the IRR and make reasonable efforts to resolve divisional issues within the scope or realm of their authority. 

1.            If the Division Commander is unable to resolve the issue, they will:

a.            Provide a brief explanation in the notes section of the ERC Application Program, and if the issue needs to be addressed by their Bureau Commander, forward it to them.

b.            The ERC Representative should be notified of the status of the issue being forwarded to the Bureau Commander and follow up for any developments on resolving the issue.

2.            If the Division Commander renders a solution, they will document it to the ERC Application Program and the ERC Representative.

3.            The ERC Representative will be notified in the ERC Application Program about the possible solution and then consult with the IRR issuer to determine if they agree with the Division Commander’s solution.

4.            The ERC Representative will document in the ERC Application Program whether the IRR issuer agrees or disagrees with the resolution and suggest it to be closed or forwarded by ERC Staff.

C.           Second Resolution Attempt

If the IRR issuer disagrees with the Division Commander’s solution, the ERC Representative will notate it on the ERC Application Program and forward it to the ERC Facilitator.

Issues not resolved at the division level will be reviewed by the ERC Staff and discussed with the ERC Coordinator.  The ERC Coordinator will review all recommendations and will take one (1) of the following steps:

1.            Send the IRR back to the ERC Representative to have the IRR issuer provide additional information, clarification, or modification if needed. 

2.            Forward the ERC issue to the Bureau Commander for possible resolution. 

a.            The Bureau Commander can affirm the solution by the Division Commander or provide an alternative solution.

1. If the Bureau Commander cannot provide a solution, they can consult with a higher command or deem this issue unable to be resolved and give a reason.

2. Once a solution is determined, it is notated on the ERC Application Program and forwarded to the ERC Representative to consult the IRR issuer.  If the IRR issuer agrees to the solution, the ERC Representative notates it on the ERC Application Program and suggests it for closure.  ERC Staff will review and determine if the ERC issue is resolved.

D.           Third Resolution Attempt and Final Disposition.

If the IRR issuer disagrees with the resolution of the second attempt, they will notify the ERC Representative, who will forward the response on the ERC Application Program to ERC Staff. 

Request for appeals will be submitted within thirty (30) calendar days of the previous resolution attempt.  The IRR issuer must submit any additional information to support their issue.  The ERC Coordinator and ERC Staff will review these requests to determine if they possess sufficient merit to warrant forwarding to the Sheriff or his designee.  The previous resolution attempt will be final if an appeal is not granted.

Any decision made by the Sheriff or his designee is final.

IV.          Filing with Name Withheld or Anonymous

Employees can choose to introduce an ERC issue with their name displayed as the issuer, have their name withheld, or remain anonymous on the ERC Application Program.

A.           Name Withheld

The ERC procedure remains the same if the issuer’s name is withheld, except correspondence is provided through the ERC Representative only.  The IRR will not display the employee’s personal information.

B.           Anonymous

When an employee files an anonymous issue, the employee will submit the issue following the ERC procedure with the following exceptions:

1.            The employee will not submit an employee number (EIN) on the ERC Application Program.

2.            The ERC representative becomes the sole determining factor for presented resolutions being agreeable.

3.            If a resolution is determined, the ERC Staff will post a copy of the IRR on the ERC bulletin board for seventy-two (72) hours.

4.            If an employee does not agree with the resolution, the employee will resubmit the issue with the original tracking number listed in the IRR.

V.               ERC Representative Selection Process

Each division within the department will have a minimum of one (1) ERC representative and one (1) alternate from each shift. 

A. The Division Commanders in their respective areas will have discretion regarding the total number (1 or 2 representatives per shift) needed to represent their division. 

B.  All ERC representatives and alternates will be elected by employees from their respective divisions and shifts.

1.            Interested employees will have seven (7) calendar days to submit their names to their Division Commanders before the election.

2.            How the election is performed is up to each division and shift.

3.            If a division has no employees who wish to be the ERC representative or alternate, the Division Commander will appoint an employee for each position. 

 C.  Filling vacancies – addressing attrition and transfers:

1. The Division Commander will appoint a replacement or hold a special election to fill any open ERC representative position due to transfer or attrition.

2. The ERC Coordinator and ERC Staff will review the decision and may initiate an election, if necessary.

VI.          Training and Length of Service for ERC Representatives

A.           Training

Newly-elected representatives will receive an ERC Handbook. Re-elected representatives will receive an updated ERC Handbook.  ERC staff will issue a notice if significant changes in the ERC process are made.

B.           Length of Service

All ERC representatives and alternates will serve for at least one (1) year or until the ERC coordinator initiates an ERC representative election.  However, any individual may serve continuous terms as an ERC representative or alternate if elected annually. ERC representatives’ service will expire upon transfer to another division.

VII.         ERC Representative Removal

A.           While serving their terms, ERC representatives can only be removed by a vote of the employees they represent or by the authority of the ERC Staff.

B.           Before the ERC representative is removed, the ERC Staff and Division Commander/Manager will discuss the issue before rendering a final decision.

C.           ERC representatives removed from their position by the ERC Coordinator may appeal to the Sheriff in writing via the chain of command.

VIII.        Supervisor Interference

All supervisors are required to facilitate the ERC representative’s access to the Division Commander regarding any ERC issue the representative may have.  Any supervisor who interferes with the ERC process by intimidation or retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action.

IX.          ERC Meetings

A.           Division Commander ERC Meeting.

Each Division Commander will establish a designated time and place for a monthly division ERC meeting.  The commander may determine the structure of these meetings and how each ERC Representative can present issues for discussion. 

B.           General Membership Meetings

The Sheriff will establish a designated time and place for an ERC General Membership Meeting each quarter; Bureau Commanders will attend and ensure a minimum of one (1) ERC Representative within their division attends the General Membership Meeting. 

Each General Membership Meeting will have an open forum segment offering ERC Representatives an opportunity to address the Sheriff and command staff provided the issue has first been presented to the representative’s Division Commander and ERC Staff. ERC Representatives will submit the issues before the scheduled general membership meeting. ERC Staff will review and approve/disapprove the issue to be presented during the open forum segment. ERC Staff will ensure the open forum segment is documented and tracked accordingly. Any decision rendered by the Sheriff or Command Staff member regarding an open forum issue is final and cannot be appealed.


This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

June 1, 2024

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