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City of Charlottesville, VA Fire Department
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES


Organization

Chapter: V- Personnel Policies and Procedures
Subject: Complaints Against FD Personnel
Code: 1-V-14
Revised: 6-10-96

14.01  PURPOSE

       To  provide  policy,  guidelines,  and  procedures  relative  to
       investigation  and  management  of   complaints   against   Fire
       Department personnel.

14.02  POLICY

       A.  All  complaints  lodged  against  Fire  Department personnel
           shall be received promptly and courteously.
       B.  Non-supervisory  members  receiving  complaints against Fire
           Department members shall refer the complaint to the  on-duty
           Fire Battalion Chief.
       C.  Complaints of a serious nature shall be referred to the Fire
           Chief or Deputy Fire Chief.
       D.  Information  concerning all aspects of an investigation of a
           complaint  against  a  Fire  Department  member   shall   be
           considered  confidential  and due respect for the rights and
           dignity of all parties concerned shall be afforded by  those
           involved in the investigation process.
       E.  Any  member  who  may  be  assigned  by  the  Fire  Chief to
           investigate allegations against another member of  the  Fire
           Department  shall  endeavor  to investigate said allegations
           fairly and impartially in an effort to determine  the  truth
           of the matter and arrive at just disposition of the case.

l4.03  AUTHORITY

       A.  The  Fire  Chief  shall  have  the  authority  to conduct an
           internal investigation relative to complaints which may have
           been filed against any member of the Fire Department.
       B.  The  Fire  Chief  shall  have  the authority to designate an
           investigator, who will be selected from  among  the  member-
           ship of the department, to conduct an internal investigation
           relating to complaints against Fire Department members.

14.04  RESPONSIBILITY

       A.  The  Fire  Chief is responsible for investigating complaints
           against Fire Department members.
       B.  Fire   Battalion   Chiefs   are  responsible  for  receiving
           complaints against Fire Department  members  and  initiating
           the investigation process.
       C.  All  Fire  Department  members are responsible for receiving
           complaints promptly and courteously and  insuring  that  all
           complaints are forwarded (through channels) expeditiously to
           the on-duty Fire Battalion Chief.
       D.  Any  member  who  has been designated as an investigator for
           the purpose of conducting an  internal  investigation  shall
           endeavor  to  conduct  said  investigation in a professional
           manner, seeking to  fairly  and  impartially  determine  the
           facts involved.

l4.05  COMPLAINT STATUS

       A.  Whenever  a  formal  internal investigation is conducted, an
           investigative report  (containing  the  particulars  of  the
           case)  shall  be prepared and forwarded directly to the Fire
           Chief.
       B.  One  or  more of the following findings shall be included in
           each completed investigative report.
           l.  Unfounded.  The investigation indicates that the
               act or acts complained of did not occur or failed
               to involve Fire Department personnel.
           2.  Exonerated.  Acts reported did occur but were
               justified, lawful, and proper.
           3.  Not sustained.  Investigation fails to discover
               sufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove
               the allegations made in that complaint.
           4.  Sustained.  The investigation disclosed sufficient
               evidence to clearly prove the allegation(s) made
               in the complaint.
           5.  Not involved.  Investigation establishes that the
               individual named in the complaint was not involved
               in the alleged incident.

l4.06  ARRESTED EMPLOYEE

       A.  Whenever  it  becomes  known  that  a  member  of  the  Fire
           Department has been arrested by a  law  enforcement  agency,
           the Fire Chief shall be notified immediately.
       B.  The Fire Chief, or his/her designee, shall make contact with
           the law enforcement agency involved and  shall  endeavor  to
           obtain as much information as possible concerning the case.
       C.  Whenever  a  member  of  the  Fire Department is arrested in
           connection with alleged, on-duty  criminal  activities,  the
           Fire  Chief  shall  be  immediately  notified  and  a formal
           investigation may be initiated.

l4.07  CRIMINAL ALLEGATIONS

       A.  Whenever  a  Police  Report  has  been  filed against a Fire
           Department member, the Fire Chief or Deputy Fire Chief shall
           be  notified immediately and a formal internal investigation
           may be initiated.
       B.  Whenever a complaint lodged against a Fire Department member
           indicates  a  criminal   act   and   there   is   sufficient
           corroborating  evidence to the extent that an arrest of said
           member seems likely, the Fire Chief  or  Deputy  Fire  Chief
           shall be notified immediately.

l4.08  PROCEDURE

       Fortunately,  complaints  against  Fire Department personnel are
       not very frequent.  However, complaints against Fire  Department
       members  do  occur  and may originate from a variety of sources,
       including; local citizens, members of the general public who are
       not  local residents, personnel from other City departments, the
       Police Department, etc.  These complaints may be received by any
       of  the various components of the Fire Department, but should be
       expeditiously routed to the on-duty Fire Battalion Chief  insure
       prompt  and  efficient  handling  of  the  same.   The following
       illustrates the system used for handling complaints against Fire
       Department personnel.
       A.  Non-supervisory   members   of   the   Suppression  Division
           receiving complaints against Fire Department personnel shall
           refer the complainant to the on-duty Fire Battalion Chief.
       B.  The Fire Battalion Chief shall determine as much information
           as possible and shall notify the Fire Chief  or  the  Deputy
           Fire Chief as soon as possible.
       C.  Fire  Battalion  Chiefs  receiving  complaints  against Fire
           Department members, either directly or  via  another  source
           within  the  Fire  Department,  shall  initiate  an informal
           investigation.
       D.  The  Fire  Chief  or Deputy Fire Chief may initiate a formal
           investigation, if they deem it necessary.
       E.  When  the  Fire  Chief  becomes  involved, he/she may decide
           (based on the facts)  to  handle  the  investigation  or  to
           delegate the investigation to another member.
       F.  The investigator (either the Fire Chief or his/her designee)
           shall  conduct  the  investigation  and  shall  contact  the
           involved  member(s)  and  question  same  as  to  the  facts
           involved.
       G.  At  the  conclusion  of  the investigation, the investigator
           will prepare a report and submit it  directly  to  the  Fire
           Chief.   Said  report will indicate the appropriate standard
           finding based on the conclusions drawn by the  investigator.
           (see l4.05, Complaint Status)
       H.  The Fire Chief will review the report.  If the Fire Chief is
           not in agreement with the report, the investigator  will  be
           re-contacted  and additional investigation may be warranted.
           If the Fire Chief is in agreement with  the  report,  he/she
           shall  initiate  the  appropriate  actions  to  conclude the
           matter based on the findings within the report.
       I.  If  the  report  indicates a finding other than "sustained",
           the involved member and the complainant will be informed  of
           the disposition of the matter; and a copy of the report will
           be placed in an administrative file  for  a  period  not  to
           exceed one year.
       J.  If  the  approved  report indicates a finding which sustains
           the allegations against the involved member, then  the  Fire
           Chief  shall  make a decision as to whether or not immediate
           corrective action should be taken.
       K.  If  immediate  action is indicated, the type of action shall
           be  determined  by  the  Fire  Chief.   Both  the   involved
           member(s)  and  the  complainant  will  be  informed  of the
           disposition of the matter, and  the  formal  disciplinary
           action process will be activated.
       L.  If  necessary,  the  Fire  Chief  may decide to consult with
           other  supervisory  members  before  deciding  the  type  of
           disciplinary action to take.

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For Help using this system, send e-mail to:

Charles Werner (werner@ci.charlottesville.va.us)