Standard Operating Guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP/SOG)

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These sections will detail Standard Operating Guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP/SOG) for the operation of the Sheriff's Auxiliary. As this Volunteer Handbook is generally visible to the public, we may also publish and distribute additional SOP/SOG which may have restricted content (e.g. specific security procedures).


There is a legal distinction between SOPs and SOGs as herein defined. Where this legal distinction is specifically intended in this document or other documents of the Auxiliary, the words Guidelines and Procedures shall be capitalized or italicized.

First of all, Auxiliary SOP/SOG may not conflict with applicable guidelines or procedures of the Sheriff's Office where such SOP/SOG is applicable to Auxiliary volunteers, including any SOP/SOG which applies to Sheriff's Office Personnel generally. SOP/SOG which only applies to Licensed Peace Officers of the LCSO may or may not apply to Auxiliary volunteers and shall be handled on a case by case basis.

A Standard Operating Guideline (SOG) states in general terms what the guideline is expected to accomplish. All major assignments are defined in general terms. Standard Operating Guidelines define "best practices" which are recommended by the Auxiliary to accomplish LCSO/LCSA policy objectives. As "Guidelines", they are subject to field requirements and may be modified where required by the specific conditions encountered, particularly in the interests of life safety. That bears repeating: when the safety of volunteers, victims, bystanders, law enforcement officers, etc., conflicts with Standard Operating Guidelines, safety shall take priority.

The orders and briefings for specific deployments shall provide additional guidance for particular missions and take priority over written SOGs; over time, best practices identified in these deployments will be used to create or improve written SOGs. Given the chaotic conditions of emergencies and disasters, it is not possible to follow Guidelines rigidly nor for the Guidelines to cover all conceivable circumstances, however, when written Guidelines are not appropriate and are not followed, the volunteer shall a) perform according to the limits of their authority, b) perform according to their training, and c) be able to articulate and defend their conduct. When Guidelines are found to be inappropriate or inapplicable, it is strongly recommended that the perceived conflict and the reason a particular decision was made be noted in the appropriate log for later analysis and possible adjustment to written documents.

Procedures are more formal and more restrictive than Guidelines. As used here, Standard Operating Procedure means:

1. Established procedure to be followed in carrying out a given operation or in a given situation.
2. A specific procedure or set of procedures so established.

Procedures should be kept short, limited in scope, formal in style, and either presented in or readily convertible to a checklist. Violations of procedure must be authorized by appropriate authority (e.g. the officer-in-charge), justifiable, subject to safety requirements, noted in logs. Violations of safety procedure are grounds for a designated safety officer to halt activity. Non-binding rationale in SOP (explanation of the intent of the SOP) shall be marked as such, typically by the use of the word "Rationale" as a subhead and shall be used in attempting to resolve apparent conflicts between procedural or policy requirements. Guidelines shall tend toward the use of "may", "must", and "should", while Procedures shall tend toward the use of "will" and "shall" statements.