Sheriff's Office Disciplinary Process

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Auxiliary volunteers are considered to be members of the Sheriff's Office and are therefore subject to some of the same disciplinary procedures as reserve or full-time deputies. In general, the Sheriff may always elect to handle a disciplinary matter within the Sheriff's Office rather than within the Auxiliary, and this is particularly likely if either key staff officers are involved or enough key officers are witnesses to a matter that a fair disciplinary process within the Auxiliary is unlikely. In specific, however, there are two Sheriff's Office disciplinary procedures which will always apply to volunteers: immediate suspension for criminal charges and use-of-force review.

  • The Sheriff may always elect to handle discipline within the Sheriff's Office and will likely do so if:
    • Key officers of the Auxiliary are directly involved
    • Enough key officers are involved as witnesses or as part of an investigation that an appropriate number of officers cannot be obtained for judge or jury on a court-martial within the Auxiliary.
    • The matter is sufficiently grave that public interest requires the Sheriff to handle the matter directly.
  • The Sheriff's Office will always handle the following matters:
    • The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office has a policy that any member of the LCSO shall be suspended from duty when criminal charges are filed against them and shall remain suspended until the charges are dropped or the member is cleared. This policy applies to Auxiliary volunteers as well and may happen while other disciplinary processes are ongoing.
    • Use-of-Force reviews when an volunteer is involved in a physical altercation (on or off duty) and especially when deadly force is involved
    • When criminal charges result from actions taken on duty.

Use of Force Review

The Sheriff's Office has a policy requiring a Use-of-Force Review when a deputy is involved in the use of deadly force on or off duty. Auxiliary volunteers come under this policy and it does include the presentation of a weapon when it is not used (e.g. you draw your weapon and hold someone at gunpoint for the arrival of a peace officer). There is a less involved process for less-than-deadly force such as the use of pepper spray or stun gun. If the use-of-force is clear, such as dealing with an intruder in your home in the dead of night, the review process should be short and straight-forward. The public will associate any use of force by Auxiliary members with the Sheriff's Office, however, so the Sheriff always has a responsibility to look into the matter.

If you are involved in such a use-of-force, you should notify your superior in chain-of-command as soon as physically possible. If you are off duty, such as a defensive shooting, you should do the following:

  • Notify the appropriate law enforcement if you have not already
  • Notify the responding officer that you are a member of the Sheriff's Auxiliary, that you were off-duty, and that you will need to undergo a Use-Of-Force review
  • Request that you be allowed to contact your superior or the Sheriff's Office or that the responding officer contact the LCSO and notify the Sheriff of the situation
  • Request a copy of their report as soon as it is available and ensure that one is sent to the LCSA/LCSO
  • Contact your attorney. We may be able to provide a list of attorneys who have stated that they would be willing to work with use-of-force incidents.

The responding officer may very well take the weapon involved in the incident for examination. You should be able to get a receipt. The LCSA/LCSO will attempt to send an officer as soon as possible to advise you on the review process and take your statement. You may also request the services of an Auxiliary Chaplain at any time. If you are only given the 'one phone call' contact your attorney if you have one and have them contact the LCSO. If you do not have an attorney, contact your superior in the LCSA or the Sheriff and inform them that you require an attorney.

Sheriff's Office in the LCSA disciplinary process

When the Sheriff takes a direct role in LCSA discipline, the LCSO may either handle the entire matter within the Sheriff's Office, or they may provide one or more deputies or attorneys as investigators, judge, or jury in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) process described in the next section.