233 – Personnel Early Warning System (PEWS)

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I. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish a Personnel Early Warning System (PEWS) to assist supervisors in identifying employees whose performance warrants review, and where appropriate, intervention for situation that have negative impacts on the employee, agency, and the community.

II. Policy

It is the policy of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to establish and maintain a system for tracking and reviewing incidents of risk to the public, agency, and employees. The Personnel Early Warning System (PEWS) shall be used to identify and assess employee performance and to provide intervention when appropriate.

III. Personnel Early Warning System

The Personnel Early Warning System (PEWS) compiles accurate statistical information on documented complaints and employee conduct received or generated by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).

PEWS provides a way to identify patterns of complaints or conduct involving an employee so supervisors may address training needs, the need to reassign the employee, or remedial action at an early stage to improve employee performance.

The PEWS determines if an employee’s behavior or conduct is subject to a mandatory referral for a professional evaluation, counseling, treatment, or medical monitoring through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

A. All documents utilized for data entry into PEWS shall use the following listed titles only:

1. A copy of all documents shall be maintained in a separate bureau file and entered by the bureau administrative assistant:

a. Use of force,

b. Fleet crash: Only after review by the Department Safety Officer (DSO) and the employee is found at fault,

c. Documented counseling: Only if issued by a supervisor as a supervisor corrective action,

d. Letter of reprimand: Only if issued by a supervisor as a supervisor corrective action, or

e. PEWS advisory.

2. Entry by Human Resources Division (HR):

a. Mandatory EAP referral, or

b. Grievance.

3. Entry by Internal Affairs Division:

a. Complaint against employee: Only those cases sustained by the Administrative Disciplinary Committee (ADC)

B. Upon receipt of any complaint against an employee, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) shall conduct a PEWS and Internal Affairs Division (IAD) history check to determine if a PEWS alert notification should be initiated as outlined in HCSO Department Policy #231 – Internal Investigations.

IV. Procedure – PEWS Activation

A. Personnel files managed by HR are subject to review at any time, and PEWS shall be activated when an employee is the subject of:

1. Three (3) or more documented complaints or policy violations of any type within a twelve (12) month period, or

2. Two (2) or more sustained documented complaints or policy violations of any type within a twelve (12) month period, or

3. Three (3) or more documented complaints or policy violations of the same type within a three (3) year period, or

4. Two (2) or more at-fault fleet crashes within the previous twelve (12) month period, or

5. Three (3) or more employee grievances involving the same subject employee in separate incidents.

6. Six (6) or more use of force incidents in a six (6) month period.

B. If, based on the criteria set forth in Section III (A), an employee’s PEWS data results in an activation of the PEWS program, OIG will notify the employee’s bureau commander as outlined in Department Policy #231, “Internal Investigations.” The bureau commander will notify the employee’s appropriate division commander that the criterion for PEWS activation has been met.

The division commander shall review the employee’s PEWS data and direct the employee’s supervisors (sergeant or lieutenant) to accomplish a comprehensive evaluation of the employee’s employment history and performance records to include:

1. Previous complaints and documented policy violations,

2. Disciplinary actions,

3. Use of force reports,

4. Fleet crashes,

5. Personnel evaluations,

6. EAP mandatory referrals, and

7. Attendance records (sick leave usage and exhaustion of benefit time) to determine patterns of conduct or other relevant information.

C. Within seven (7) days of receiving the directive from the division commander, the employee’s supervisors shall meet with the employee and review the performance records and PEWS findings.

If, for any reason, this meeting cannot take place within seven (7) days, the lieutenant shall notify the division commander, in writing, to explain the reason for the delay.

D. Upon conclusion of the employee meeting, the employee’s immediate supervisor shall submit correspondence to the division commander through the chain of command. This correspondence shall include:

1. Information provided by the employee regarding his or her conduct or concerns,

2. Observations made by supervisory staff regarding the employee’s situation, and

3. A detailed personal improvement or training plan for the employee, if appropriate.

E. The employee’s division commander shall review the written response with the bureau commander prior to any further action being taken. This review will take place within fourteen (14) days from the date the immediate supervisor submits correspondence in compliance with Section III (D) of this policy.

F. A copy of the PEWS advisory memorandum and the supervisor’s correspondence detailing the personal improvement or training plan for the employee shall be forwarded to the HR and maintained in the employee’s permanent personnel file.

G. In cases where activation of PEWS involves an employee holding the rank of captain or professional staff member administrator, the bureau commander shall review the employee files and take the follow-up measures outlined in this policy.

V. Annual Evaluation of the PEWS System

A. PEWS shall be reviewed annually by bureau and division commanders in order to assess the system’s effectiveness and to make any necessary modifications.

B. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) shall conduct a documented annual evaluation of the PEWS to determine its effectiveness and any recommended modifications. The result of this evaluation shall be documented in a report to the Sheriff detailing the results of the evaluation.

This annual evaluation shall utilize data obtained between January 1st and December 31st of each calendar year, and shall be completed by March 31st of each year.

C. Information obtained as a result of PEWS is confidential and will only be released in compliance with laws governing confidentiality of personnel records and HCSO policies.


This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

April 21, 2009  June 14, 2017

January 7, 2014 February 18, 2021

December 5, 2016

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