304 – Obedience to Orders

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I. Purpose

This policy establishes directives to ensure effective supervision of employees.

II. Policy

Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) employees must obey just and lawful orders from a supervisor, or acting authority, regardless if the supervisor or acting authority is in the employee’s chain of command.

III. Procedures

A. An employee must not willfully disregard any lawful order from a supervisor or acting authority.

B. In the event a supervisor or acting authority cannot transmit an order directly, they may delegate another employee of equal or lesser rank to transmit the order to affected employees.

1. Those employees will be required to obey the order as if the supervisor or acting authority issued the order directly.

2. The issuing supervisor, or acting authority, must confirm the order was properly conveyed and that ordered tasks are completed.

C. If an employee, acting under orders from a supervisor or authority not present, receives conflicting orders from another supervisor or acting authority, then:

1. Such conflict should be brought to the attention of the supervisor or authority who issued the conflicting orders in a discreet, respectful manner.

2. If the conflicting orders are not rescinded, the employee will obey the last order received. In doing so, the employee will not be held accountable for the failure to obey the original order.

3. The supervisor or acting authority who issued the last order is responsible for notifying the supervisor or acting authority who gave the original order, and for justifying the decision to overrule the original order.

D. Unlawful Orders:

1. Any employee who reasonably, and in good faith, believes he or she has received an unlawful order has the right to refuse to obey that order.

2. The employee must, in a discreet and respectful manner, inform the supervisor who issued the order that they will not obey the order, and the reasons for refusing.

3. If there is a subsequent investigation to determine why the order was not obeyed, the employee will be required to establish that the order was illegal or unjust under the circumstances.

4. “Unlawful order” is defined as an order that violates federal, state, or local statutes. For purposes of this policy, it may also be an order which violates the Department Manual.


This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

April 21, 2009

June 15, 2021

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