226 – Commendations, Awards, Nominations, Pins, and Ribbons

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Purpose

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) recognizes employees for their meritorious service, bravery, and valor above and beyond the call of duty. Recognition may be in the form of awards, medals, or ribbons. The HCSO may also submit the names of nominees to various agencies and organizations that bestow awards for law enforcement excellence.

Policy

Primary Nomination Criteria

Nomination of an employee for an award shall be predicated on achievement of any one of the following:

  1. Significant and commendable actions performed in the line of duty,
  2. Outstanding performance of duty, documented by:
    • The creation of innovative methods or procedures that enhance the efficiency of a division, bureau, or the HCSO, or
    • Exemplary solution of unusual or difficult problems, events, or cases.
  3. Significant contributions to the community through off-duty participation in civic or service organizations or community events,
  4. Exceptional deeds or performance provided to or on behalf of citizens that bring honor to the HCSO and to the law enforcement profession.

Secondary Nomination Criteria

In the event a sufficient number of primary criteria do not exist from which the organization bestowing the award may have a choice of selecting recipients, a nomination may be based on a combination of any of the following consistent and continuing self-improvement efforts, demonstrated through:

  1. Off-duty enrollment in training programs designed to improve proficiency and efficiency in the performance of duty,
  2. Repeated attainment of “above average” ratings on performance evaluation reports.
    • Deputy – a score of 26 to 30 points
    • Supervisor – a score of 39 to 45 points
  3. An outstanding record of attendance over a significant time period,
  4. A significant number of commendation letters received from citizens or other law enforcement agencies, or
  5. An outstanding driving record sustained over a significant time period.

Negative Considerations

Factors that may negate the eventual nomination of an employee for an award are:

  1. A letter of reprimand issued or disciplinary sanction imposed during the calendar year in which the nomination is made,
  2. A “below average” rating on a personnel evaluation report during the calendar year in which the nomination is made,
  3. A record of poor attendance during the calendar year in which the nomination is made, or
  4. A sustained record of poor driving during the calendar year in which the nomination is made.

Nomination Submission Procedures

Any HCSO member may nominate any other member for an award. If the primary criterion for an award is established, then a “Nomination for Award” form may be initiated and forwarded through the chain of command to the appropriate bureau commander. Pertinent comments and recommendations shall be noted on the form.

Each nomination must contain concise and explicit justification that meet the criteria established for an award.

Each bureau commander shall have the responsibility to encourage the submission of “Nomination for Award” forms continuously from employees under their command. Nominations may be received on a continuing basis.

If an outside agency or organization solicits an award nomination for HCSO personnel, the Sheriff shall direct each bureau commander to forward all nominations that are contained within the bureau files.

If a sufficient number of nominations based on primary criteria do not exist at the time the Sheriff directs that bureau nominations be forwarded, the Sheriff may solicit additional nominations from bureau commanders based on secondary criteria.

Following receipt of nominations from each bureau, the Sheriff shall provide a list of all nominees to Human Resources.

Human Resources shall review the list and determine if any negative considerations exist that would disqualify any of the nominees.

If negative considerations exist, those nominations will be withdrawn from the list.

All nominations processed through Human Resources and approved by the Sheriff shall be forwarded to the outside agency or organization bestowing the award in accordance with its deadline for receipt of nominations.

Commendable Actions

Commendable incident reports shall be generated from meritorious actions of employees. Outstanding execution of difficult or dangerous duties or assignments by employees shall be made the subject of commendable incident report that shall be originated by each employee’s immediate supervisor. [CALEA Standard 26.1.2]

The supervisor shall give the original copy of the commendable incident report to the employee being commended, and one copy of the report shall be forwarded to the next highest supervisor in the employee’s immediate chain of command.

Each supervisor in the employee’s immediate chain of command shall notate on the report whether he or she concurs with the report. Following the endorsement by the bureau commander, the report shall be forwarded to the Sheriff or his or her designee.

The Sheriff or his or her designee shall evaluate the report and recommend whether or not an official commendation is in order.

If the Sheriff determines that an official commendation is appropriate, it shall be prepared and addressed to the employee under the signature of the Sheriff, and a copy shall become a part of the employee’s permanent personnel file.

Each supervisor who endorsed the commendable incident report shall also be given a copy of the commendation letter sent to the employee from the Sheriff.

Commendable incident reports and commendation letters should be considered by an employee’s supervisor during the preparation of annual performance evaluations.

If an incident, in the opinion of the Sheriff or his or her designee, does not warrant the preparation of an official commendation, the report shall be forwarded to Human Resources to be placed in the employee’s permanent personnel file.

Authorized Uniform Pins and Ribbons

Authorized pins listed in this policy may be displayed on the Class A duty uniform only.

Exceptions

  • The years of service pin may be worn with the Class B uniform only.
  • The Honor Guard pin with an attached name plate may be worn with the Class A and B uniforms.
  • The mourning badge cover pin may be worn with the Class C uniform and all other uniforms having a cloth badge.

The type of ribbons or pins the employee is authorized to wear will dictate the location and the number of ribbons or pins allowed to be displayed on the uniform. All ribbons or pins shall be worn only in the approved manner (see enclosed exhibits).

Achievement Pin

Only one (1) achievement pin may be worn at any time. In order for an achievement pin to be worn in conjunction with a specialty pin, it must be a placard-style pin (rectangular shape) and be approved by the Sheriff or his or her designee.

In the event the achievement pin is an emblem-style pin (varied shapes), the employee may not wear it in conjunction with a specialty pin. The employee may decide whether to wear a specialty pin or the emblem-style achievement pin.

If a placard-style achievement pin is worn in conjunction with a specialty pin, it shall be placed between the ribbons and the specialty pin (if applicable). The specialty pin shall always be the topmost pin displayed on the uniform (see the enclosed exhibits).

The following achievement pins are authorized, and the employee who has fulfilled the necessary requirements may wear one of the following achievement pins in the approved manner:

Pin: Certified Jail Manager

Qualification: Must pass a jail manager examination for professional excellence as promulgated by the American Jail Association.

Pin: FBI Academy Graduate

Qualification: Must have successfully graduated from the FBI National Academy.

Pin: Graduate Management Institute (GMI) / Leadership and Command College (LCC)

Qualification: Must have successfully completed the required academic qualifications and be a graduate of the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute / Leadership Command College of Texas.

Pin: HCSO Service Award

Qualification: Awarded for every five (5) consecutive years of service with the HCSO.

Pin: Master Peace Officer

Qualification: Must possess a TCOLE-approved master peace officer license.

Pin: Military Branch

Qualification: Must have been honorably discharged from one of the five United States military branches.

Pin: TCOLE Education Achievement Award

Qualification: Must apply and receive the education achievement award as stipulated by TCOLE rules and regulations. The uniform pin issued by TCOLE for this award will be the only academic achievement award pin authorized to be worn on the HCSO uniform.

Pin: 100 Club

Qualification: Must be a recipient of a 100 Club award.

Pin: National Jail Leadership Command Academy

Qualification: Must have successfully completed the required academic qualifications and be a graduate of the National Jail Leadership Command Academy.

Specialty Pins

In the event an employee has more than one specialty pin, the employee must decide which pin will be worn. The following specialty pins are authorized, and the employee who has fulfilled the necessary requirements may wear only one of the following pins in the approved manner on the uniform:

Exception: As the Honor Guard pin is affixed to the name plate, it may be worn under all other pins and ribbons along with any other specialty pin.

Pin: Accident Investigator

Qualification: Must have successfully completed the advanced traffic collision investigation courses and be currently assigned in that capacity.

Pin: Aviation

Qualification: Must be currently assigned to the HCSO Air Support Unit.

Pin: Bicycle Patrol

Qualification: Must have successfully completed an approved 40-hour bicycle certification course and possess a HCSO-approved police-equipped bicycle or be assigned to the Bicycle Unit.

Pin: Bilingual Speaker

Qualification: Must be proficient in the foreign language that is represented on the pin displayed.

Pin: Bomb Technician

Qualification: Must have successfully completed FBI-approved Hazardous Device School for Law Enforcement Officers course and be currently assigned to the Bomb Unit.

Pin: Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA)

Qualification: Must have successfully completed all phases of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration certification course, maintain annual recertification, and be currently assigned to the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit.

Pin: Crime Prevention Specialist

Qualification: Must have successfully completed a crime prevention specialist training course.

Pin: Crime Scene Investigator (CSI)

Qualification: Must have successfully completed the required training and be currently assigned as a crime scene investigator with one year crime scene investigation experience.

Pin: Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT)

Qualification: Must be a TCOLE-licensed peace officer or detention officer that has completed the training necessary to qualify as a mental health officer. The employee must currently be assigned to CIRT in the Patrol Bureau or to the Justice Housing Mental Health Unit (MHU) / Medical Division.

  • The pin shall be centrally located on the right breast pocket flap of the uniform shirt, between the button and the left edge of the pocket.

Pin: Drug Recognition Expert

Qualification: Must have successfully completed the Drug Evaluation and Classification training course, be a currently certified Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), and maintain the yearly requirements to perform duties of this certification.

Pin: DWI Unit

Qualification: Must be currently assigned to the HCSO DWI Unit of the Vehicular Crimes Division.

Pin: Explorer Advisor

Qualification: Must be a certified explorer advisor and currently be active and participating in the explorers program.

Pin: Field Training Officer (FTO)

Qualification: Must have successfully completed a field training officer training course and currently be in a FTO position within the Patrol Bureau.

Pin: Firearms Instructor

Qualification: Must have successfully completed a certified firearms instructor course approved by the HCSO Academy and be currently registered and serving as a range officer for HCSO qualifications.

Pin: Hazardous Materials Specialist

Qualification: Must have successfully completed a TCOLE-approved hazardous material operations course for law enforcement officers.

Pin: Honor Guard

Qualification: Must be a current Honor Guard member.

Pin: Hostage Negotiator

Qualification: Must be currently assigned to the Hostage Negotiation Team.

Pin: Intoxilyzer Operator

Qualification: Must have successfully completed a TCOLE-approved Intoxilyzer operator training course and currently hold that additional duty assignment.

Pin: Jail Inspection

Qualification: Effective March 1, 2011, personnel must have been assigned to the Criminal Justice Command during the successful passing of the annual Texas Jail Commission inspection and / or any future successful jail inspections.

Each star represents up to five years of successful annual Texas Jail Commission inspections.

Pin: K-9 Unit

Qualification: Must have successfully completed a HCSO-approved police dog handler course and currently hold that position.

Pin: Marine Division

Qualification: Must successfully pass the Texas Boater Safety Course administered by Texas Parks and Wildlife and pass the Marine Safety Enforcement Deputy course as authorized by the HCSO and prescribed by TCOLE. The deputy must be in good standing with the Marine Division and meet ongoing training requirements and emergency call-outs.

Pin: Mentor

Qualification: Must have successfully completed the HCSO mentorship program.

Pin: Motorcycle Deputy

Qualification: Must be currently assigned to the motorcycle section of the Vehicular Crimes Division, must be certified in HCSO motorcycle training, and must possess a HCSO-approved police-equipped motorcycle.

Pin: Mounted Patrol

Qualification: Horse and deputy must have successfully completed a 40-hour basic and advanced certification class authorized by the HCSO and successfully completed the annual proficiency qualification test. The deputy must be an active participating member of the Mounted Patrol and meet ongoing training requirements and emergency call-outs.

Pin: Mourning Badge Cover

Employee Purchase: A representation of the cloth mourning badge cover specifically designed to be pinned to uniforms having the cloth badge.

NOTE: Civilian and plainclothes personnel may wear the mourning badge cover pin on jackets and lanyards only.

Pin: Police Diver

Qualification: Must hold a minimum rating of advanced open water diver and have successfully passed the 40-hour TCOLE-approved police diver course as authorized by the HCSO. The deputy must be in good standing with the Marine Division and meet ongoing training requirements and emergency call-outs.

Pin: Safe Zone

Qualification: Must be a volunteer liaison of the LGBTQI Safe Zone Project and have completed the LGBTQI Safe Zone Project course.

Pin: Special Response Group (SRG)

Qualification: Must be currently assigned as a SRG member in good standing and have completed all requirements as outlined in the HCSO Special Response Group policy.

Pin: Training Deputy / Training Supervisor

Qualification: Must have successfully completed a TCOLE-approved instructor course and currently hold an instructor position within the HCSO.

Pin: 9-1-1 Operator

Qualification: Must have successfully completed a TCOLE-approved telecommunication training course and be currently assigned in that capacity.

Ribbons

Only ribbons and pins authorized by the Sheriff may be worn on HCSO official uniforms. The ribbons will be worn above the uniform name plate and below the specialty award pin.

Uniform ribbons can only be displayed on the uniform in the manner, style, and fashion as set forth below. Employees may wear more than one of the authorized ribbons but not two of the same award. There shall be a maximum of two (2) ribbons per row with the highest meritorious ribbon always on the top ribbon row and furthest to the left, closest to the heart. The ribbons will be set out in importance as displayed below with the first ribbon being the highest meritorious award followed in succession of importance (see attached diagram). All multiple ribbons must utilize a multiple ribbon bar holder that may be obtained from Uniform Supply.

Bravery (red)

Awarded by the Sheriff to an employee who has distinguished him- or herself by an act of heroism at imminent personal hazard or has been involved in combat with an armed adversary.

Valor (purple)

Awarded by the Sheriff to an employee injured in the line of duty during the performance of some act which is particularly noteworthy or commendable.

Lifesaving (green)

Awarded by the Sheriff to an employee whose meritorious conduct includes a lifesaving or first aid response.

Merit (blue)

Awarded by the Sheriff to an employee whose meritorious conduct singularly deserves attention. The employee’s ideas, actions, or exemplary personal conduct may:

  1. Result in improved administration, operation, or substantial saving in manpower or costs,
  2. Merit commendatory attention through the use of creative policing initiatives, or
  3. Reflect favorably on the HCSO and its personnel.

Outstanding Community Service (blue with a red and white centered oak branch)

Awarded by the Sheriff to an employee or a citizen for his or her outstanding work in building the relationship and partnership between the HCSO and his or her community or for any other form of outstanding public service.

Safe Driving (green with white stripes)

Awarded by the Sheriff to a person or group for best or most improved driving record. The below criteria shall apply to employees assigned to the Law Enforcement Command and specified employees in the Criminal Justice Command:

Employees must have been assigned to a driving position for consecutive years within the areas below. A calendar year runs from January 1st through December 31st. During this specified time, an employee shall not have been:

  1. Involved in an “at-fault” fleet crash or
  2. Involved in an “at-fault” or “non-at-fault” crash in which the employee was found not wearing his or her seat belt.

Law Enforcement Command: Period of five (5) consecutive calendar years

Transportation Division: Period of five (5) consecutive calendar years

Operations (e.g., Outside Patrol and supervisory positions): Period of ten (10) consecutive calendar years

In March of each year, if an employee believes he or she is eligible for the safe driving award, the employee shall request in writing to the employee’s division commander that he or she should be issued the award. The division commander shall request in writing for the Vehicular Crimes Division (VCD) supervisor to verify that the employee has not been involved in any “at-fault” fleet crash, “seat belt violation,” or any “safety violation” fleet crashes. The VCD supervisor shall then inform the requesting division commander whether the employee is eligible for the safe driving award.

NOTE: The safe driving award should only be awarded to deputies who spend 50% or more of their time in their assigned county vehicles and who are regularly exposed to traffic hazards during their course of duty.

Outstanding Supervisor (blue with white stripes)

Awarded by the Sheriff to a supervisor of any rank or assignment who is particularly distinguished by consistently delivering quality supervision and outstanding service.

Perfect Attendance (red, white, and blue)

Awarded by the Sheriff in recognition of an employee who has not used any sick time, including family leave time, during a calendar year.

  • A ribbon of red, white, and blue with a centered gold leaf is awarded for two (2) or more years of continuous perfect attendance.
  • Only one (1) perfect attendance ribbon shall be worn at a time.

Unit Citation (yellow)

Awarded by the Sheriff in recognition of outstanding teamwork resulting in excellent delivery of service.

National Defense (red with yellow stripes)

Awarded by the Sheriff to employees who have received a National Defense award from the United States Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard). Eligible employees shall submit a copy of their DD-214/5 (Report of Separation) to Human Resources.

Hurricane Ike Service (red and black, dated 9-13-08)

Awarded by the Sheriff to employees in recognition of meritorious service to the community in preparation of, during, and after Hurricane Ike’s landfall along the Texas gulf coast on September 13, 2008.

Leadership Development Institute – LDI (purple with gold stripes)

Effective October 15, 2013, personnel must have successfully completed the HCSO Leadership Development Institute program.

Breast Cancer Awareness (pink and white)

Awarded for significant community service contributions in the fight against breast cancer.

“Significant” means:

  • Time: More than 40 hours in the last 3 years,
  • Number of events: 3 or more in the last 3 years, or
  • Fundraising: At least $1,000.00 in the last 3 years.
  • Years of Service Stripes and Years of Service Pin

Years of Service Stripes

Service stripes may be worn on the long-sleeved uniform shirt only. The service stripes will be sewn to the lower front of the left sleeve. The stripes will be at a 45-degree angle with the lower edge of the sleeve, placed toward the outside of the sleeve, and be even with the sleeve’s inside crease. The lower corner of the bar (service stripe) will be one (1) inch above the upper seam of the sleeve cuff. Additional bar patches will be sewn in the same manner in a vertically stacked arrangement.

Years of Service Pin

The service pin may be worn on the Class B uniform short-sleeved uniform shirt only. When worn, the pin will be centered one-eighth inch above the name plate.

Each stripe or star shall represent five (5) whole years employed as a commissioned and licensed Texas peace officer (for deputy) or employed and licensed as a Texas county jailer (for detention officer) as reported by TCOLE. Personnel may only wear stripes for accrued service time in their current position (either commissioned peace officer or county jailer).

Service stripes shall be gold for licensed peace officers (deputy) and red for detention officers.

HCSO personnel wishing to wear the authorized service stripes or pin shall obtain an authorization form from Uniform Supply. The form will identify the number of stripes to be provided and sewn by the vendor and / or the number of stars on the pin to be issued.

Authorized personnel may take up to three (3) long-sleeved shirts to the vendor for stripes to be sewn.

Revision

This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

April 21, 2009

December 1, 2017

April 9, 2018

February 7, 2019

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