302 – Professional Conduct Required

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I. Purpose

Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) employees shall strive to gain public trust and support the agency’s programs and procedures in order to facilitate the accomplishment of the agency’s objectives.

II. Policy

A. Employees of the Sheriff’s Office have an obligation to the community and must strive to act professionally to inspire public trust and confidence. Employees are public servants and will keep all contact with the public professional and courteous at all times.

B. An exemplary employee:

1. Always strives to be in compliance with department policies;

2. Completes a forty (40) hour work week unless excused;

3. Knows their immediate supervisor and the duty requirements and responsibilities;

4. Returns to their duty assignment on time after lunch and breaks;

5. Works diligently and to the best of their ability;

6. Remains at their assigned duty area during duty hours unless assigned elsewhere by a supervisor;

7. An employee will conduct themselves in a courteous and professional manner at all time;

8. Complies with directions given by a supervisor;

9. Maintains a satisfactory standard of performance necessary for their work assignment;

10. Refrains from conducting unauthorized meetings, distributing literature, or soliciting employees for political activities or non-profit organizations during duty hours unless authorized by a supervisor;

11. Works overtime when required;

12. Reports any unsafe act or condition to their supervisor; and

13. Reports any injury sustained on duty to supervisor.

C. Employee Behavior:

1. Avoid excessive absenteeism or tardiness particularly in conjunction with regular scheduled days off.

2. Employees will not smoke, use electronic cigarettes (vape), or use smokeless tobacco while making public contact, both on-duty or while working extra employment. This includes any time the employee engages in functions open to the public view, such as traffic stops, calls for service, crowd control, accident investigations, or any other matter related to law enforcement actions by the employee engaged with or in view of the public. [See Department Policy 801 Operation of County Vehicle II. A. 2. l.] Vice and undercover operations are exempt from this restriction for the performance of their duty.

3. Do not deface or damage county property.

4. Avoid the use of county telephones for personal matters, except in necessary and emergency situations.

5. Do not use intoxicating beverages while on duty, except as may be plausible in the performance of duty.

6. Whether on-or-off duty, employees will not consume, possess or purchase alcoholic beverages while wearing any recognizable part of the HCSO uniform or badge, identifying them as an employee of the Sheriff’s Office. [See Department Policy 204 Drug and Alcohol Policy III. C.]

a. A recognizable part of the uniform includes, but is not limited to the uniform hat, shirt, jacket, badge, gear, or any other item which would be recognized as such by a member of the general public.

7. Do not participate in or encourage others to call in or to participate in an illegal work slowdown or work sick-out.

8. Do not participate in public displays of affection while in uniform or while on duty.

9. Do not take excessive tobacco breaks and will only use tobacco in areas designated for that purpose.  As a reminder, no employee wearing items identifying them as an employee of HCSO will use tobacco products in view of the public.

10. Do not abuse sick time or workers’ compensation.

D. Professionalism

HCSO personnel have certain responsibilities to the citizens and other governmental agencies of Harris County. Employees must ensure that these responsibilities are discharged in a professional manner.

A professional is a person who possesses the following traits:

1. Honesty,

2. Common sense,

3. Competency,

4. Integrity,

5. Loyalty,

6. Courage,

7. Credibility,

8. Proper personal hygiene (well-groomed and attired)

9. Decisiveness,

10. Dedication,

11. Responsibility, and

12. Equitability.

E. Employees will adhere to the following rules of professional conduct at all times:

1. Addressing Ranking Deputies: When in the presence of the public, each employee shall address fellow employees by rank or by title (e.g., Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms., Deputy, Sergeant, Lieutenant, etc.) as the circumstances warrant.

2. Conduct in Making Arrests or Towards a Prisoner: Each deputy must be firm, resolute, and zealous in affecting arrests. When using force becomes necessary in making an arrest or restraining a prisoner, the deputy shall use only that degree of force necessary under the circumstances. In every arrest or incident where force is used, the facts surrounding the arrest and the use of force shall be fully included in a written report submitted by the employee to the appropriate supervisor by the end of the employee’s duty shift.

3. Duty to Give Statements: During the course of any official investigation, an employee shall, if requested or ordered to do so, immediately give a full, complete, and truthful statement. Failure to comply may result in disciplinary action, including up to termination.

4. Duty to Report Information: Each employee shall promptly report any information given to him or her in good faith by any citizen that indicates the need for action by the HCSO.

5. Exclusive Service: The HCSO is entitled to the exclusive service of its employees. Personnel may not work (either directly or indirectly) for other criminal justice agencies (other than in an approved extra job capacity).

Within this context, “work” means to provide a service, paid or voluntary, as a regular or reserve deputy or detention officer or other civilian employee except as required.

6. Handling of Monies and Property: All monies or other property rightfully belonging to a third party that comes into the possession of any employee shall be delivered to the appropriate custodian and properly recorded.

7. Information to Citizens: Employees shall respond to requests for public information in a courteous and accurate manner. In so responding, employees shall disclose only that information deemed public. No employee shall make inquiry of the party requesting such public information beyond establishing the party’s identity and the precise nature of the information being sought.

8. Police Action: All deputies, whether on or off duty, shall report and take proper action in any situation requiring law enforcement action. Each deputy shall have an approved firearm that has been authorized to carry as a result of successful firearm qualification, HCSO badge, and HCSO identification card in his or her possession at all times.

9. Duty to Provide Official Identification: All employees shall present their HCSO identification card when requested by a member of the public when engaged in law enforcement activities or when in uniform. (Executive Order)

Personnel engaged in covert operations are exempt from this requirement.

10. Bearing: While on duty, in uniform or otherwise, deputies shall maintain a professional bearing.


This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

April 21, 2009

December 2, 2020

June 12, 2022

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