Page 10 - March 2021
P. 10

Just as officers are required to follow orders, so are supervisors. When it comes to SPARs spe- cifically, supervisors are to be cognizant of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Some officers might not be familiar with the SPARs process because they rarely, if ever, receive dis- cipline. However, the supervisors issuing the SPARS are well aware of the process and as of late, a few have been violating the SPAR Order (S08-01-05) as well as the CBA.
SPARs in some districts and units are the preferred meth- od of “correcting” less serious transgressions. Although the order states that supervisors should exercise counseling and discretion prior to the application of a SPAR, there are super- visors who completely disregard that part of the order.
In addition, in these districts and units, SPARs are used ex- cessively where simple counseling would correct the issues. Abuse of the disciplinary system surely doesn’t contribute to boosting morale. Abuse of discipline is not an effective meth- od of correcting oversights, errors or minor violations. Year after year, these districts where supervisors abuse the SPAR system to “get even” with officers also face a steady increase in crime. Excessive discipline, decreased morale, increased crime stats — anyone see the correlation? The zero tolerance for even the most minor infractions doesn’t help anyone, just as the demand for “Blue-cards” and arrest doesn’t cure a crime problem (but that’s a whole other topic).
Be advised, per the contract, a SPAR penalty cannot be grieved, unless three previous SPARs have been administered within the last 365 days. However, if the SPAR order is not be- ing followed, or if the order is being violated, then the mem- ber has the right to contact the BIA and request an investi- gation. The Department is required to follow its own orders.
Oversights or misinterpretations of the SPAR order do hap- pen occasionally, but with a simple phone call, the initiating supervisor corrects their behavior. Unfortunately, there are those supervisors who will never acknowledge their mistakes and they will continue administering punishment without due process.
So, if you find yourself on the receiving end of a SPAR, the first thing you should do is review the SPAR Order, S08-01-05 (it’s only 10 pages). Probably the most important item in the order is that you have a right to an appeal process. The appeal process can consist of two separate hearings. Each time, you would have to request the appeals in writing. The first hear- ing is with the unit commanding officer. If you don’t receive a satisfactory disposition, you still have the right to an appeal to the next highest rank, usually a deputy. This second appeal
will be the final disposition. Again, each appeal has to be re- quested in writing, either by To/From, or directly in the auto- mated SPAR system. Your requests each have to include your reason for the appeal and have to be submitted by either the end of the next tour of duty or 96 hours, whichever is shorter.
Over the past month, there have been officers and mem- bers who were lured into a conversation with their supervi- sor who also happened to be the initiating supervisor of the SPAR. The conversation then turned to the minor transgres- sion and, before the officers knew it, the conversation was concluded and they were instructed to accept their penalty. The supervisor violated the order a number of ways here: The members were never told that the conversation was the ac- tual hearing, the hearing was not with the unit commander, counseling and discretion were clearly not used, and penal- ties were not according to the SPAR guidelines and were not applied uniformly.
Speaking to certain supervisors can be intimidating, es- pecially when one is not familiar with the supervisor. So if a member knows they are the subject of a SPAR, and they feel they are defending themselves, they should respectfully ask if the “conversation” is related to the SPAR. The member could say something to the effect of, “Sir [or Ma’am], with all due re- spect, my union has advised me to ask if there is a possibility of receiving discipline from this conversation.”
However (per the order), the SPAR hearing is to be held with the unit’s commanding officer; at the district level, the hearing is held with the district commander. This is another indicator where if members find themselves defending them- selves to a lower-level supervisor, the member should again, respectfully inquire if the conversation is related to the SPAR.
If the member is informed that the conversation is in fact the SPAR hearing, the member should then assert their right to have a unit rep or watch rep present. When the member is summoned into the office, he or she should be informed that the meeting is a hearing related to the SPAR — not under the guise that it is a friendly conversation or for an unrelated issue.
It would be incumbent upon each officer to know the SPAR order prior to the hearing.
For those members who aren’t afraid of retaliation by su- pervisors, and who believe the supervisor has committed misconduct by violating a Department order, they have a right to initiate a CR/Log number through BIA. In situations where there is evidence of discrimination, the member should refer to the EEOC Order (Equal Employment Opportunity Commi- sion) for guidance.
SecondVice President’s Report
Receiving a SPAR? Read this

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