Chief’s Counsel: Fairness and Consistency in Disciplinary Actions

Disciplining personnel is perhaps the least favorite and most difficult aspect of being a police chief. Chiefs must ensure that discipline among employees is fair, lawful, and adequate to address the behavior at issue; is sufficient to protect the agency from liability under a Section 1983 pattern-or-practice or a failure-to-supervise theory; and will prompt the employee to reform. Chiefs have little hope of achieving all of these goals unless effective systems exist to assist them.