1.020 - Chain of Command

Effective Date: 2/19/2014


This policy applies to all employees.

1. Department Employees Follow a Structured Chain of Command

All Department employees are subordinate to the Chief of Police.  Employees are subordinate to all ranks above their position.

The Department chain of command applies while on duty or during secondary employment.

Sworn Employees are ranked:

  • Chief of Police
  • Deputy Chief
  • Assistant Chief
  • Captain
  • Lieutenant
  • Sergeant
  • Officer/Detective

The Chief of Police is the overall commander of the Department.

Assistant Chiefs command bureaus. 

  • Assistant chiefs are appointed by the Chief of Police.
  • The Department is composed of seven bureaus:
    • Chief Operating Officer Bureau
    • Compliance and Professional Standards Bureau
    • Special Operations Bureau
    • Homeland Security Bureau
    • Patrol Operations Bureau
    • Criminal Investigations Bureau
    • Field Support Bureau
  • An assistant chief may also establish a task force.
    • A task force is established to respond to a specific law enforcement problem. The assistant chief will determine the command, duration, reporting requirements and scope of the task force.

Captains command sections and precincts.

  • A section is a division of a bureau.
  • A precinct is a geographical area of the city defined by boundaries.
  • Precincts are geographically subdivided into sectors and beats.  Sectors are a division of a precinct and a beat is the division of a sector.

Lieutenants command units and watches.

  • A unit is a division of a section.  Several units may exist in one section.
  • A watch is a set time of day when assigned personnel are on duty.  A watch refers to a subcommand of a precinct.

Sergeants command squads and sectors.

  • Squads are a division of a unit.  Sectors are a division of a precinct.  Several squads may exist in one unit.  Sergeants may also command a detail, which is a subdivision of a squad or sector that is assigned a specific task.

Detectives are assigned to a squad or unit.

Patrol officers are assigned to a beat or a post. 

  • A beat is a geographical area defined within a precinct.  A post is a fixed assignment within a precinct.

Non-sworn employees are ranked under their collective bargaining agreements.

2. The Department Follows a Succession of Command

If the Chief of Police is incapacitated, the Department command succession is:

  • Deputy Chief
  • Patrol Operations Bureau Chief
  • Homeland Security Bureau Chief
  • Special Operations Chief
  • Investigations Bureau Chief
  • Field Support Bureau Chief
  • Professional Standards and Compliance Bureau Chief

3. Sworn Employees Take Command During Operational Situations

Sworn employees responding to an operational situation will follow the command of a higher ranking employee.

When two sworn employees of the same rank are functioning in an operational situation, the senior employee will assume command.

When a senior officer is at a scene and issues orders directing the activities of employees assigned to the scene, that senior officer has assumed command.

The senior employee will remain in command until officially relieved.

The physical presence of a higher ranking sworn employee at an operational scene does not indicate an immediate assumption of command and decision making responsibilities.

4. Employees May Delegate Duties to Their Subordinates

An employee may assign a subordinate employee the same authority and responsibility they possess to accomplish a specific task. The delegating employee remains responsible to complete the delegated task.

5. Employees Train Their Subordinates

Employees in a supervisory role will provide training for their subordinate employees. 

Subordinate employees will report the need for training to their supervisors.

Employees in a supervisory role will train their subordinate employees in the duties of that role in case the supervisor cannot perform their duties.

6. Command Employees Take Responsibility for Every Aspect of Their Command

Employees in a supervisory role will coordinate and direct subordinates and allocate resources to achieve the operations objective.

Employees in a supervisory role will perform the full range of administrative functions relying upon policy, direction, training, and personal initiative as a guide for themselves and their command in achieving the highest level of performance possible.

All sergeants and above are fully responsible and accountable for the acts or omissions of their subordinates.

Any failure by a subordinate may be assumed to be a failure in supervision or command.

7. Employees Shall Communicate Through the Chain of Command

Exception: An employee may communicate directly with any higher-ranking employee if information is sensitive and requires communication outside the chain of command.  The higher-ranking employee is then responsible for taking action where appropriate and passing along the information.