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FAQs Regarding The Iowa Public Safety Officer Bill Of Rights

The rights of Iowa’s firefighters, police officers and other public safety workers are protected by the Iowa Public Safety Officer Bill of Rights. These rights apply in preparation for, during, and following an administrative investigation complaint interview. When a civilian files a complaint, public safety officers have rights. At Hedberg & Boulton, P.C., in Des Moines, we help public safety officers in Iowa protect their civil rights. 

Who is covered by the Iowa Public Safety Officer Bill of Rights?

The bill of rights applies to all certified law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, corrections officers, detention officers, jailers, probation or parole officers, communication officers, or any other law enforcement officer certified by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and employed by a municipality, county, or state agency.

What types of interviews are covered under the protective law?

The protections afforded under the Iowa Public Safety Officer Bill of Rights applies to interviews where an officer is the subject of a complaint pursuant to a formal administrative investigation of the investigating agency and if such complaint may be the basis for disciplinary action against the officer. An interview does not include questions as part of any informal inquiry or questions related to minor infractions of agency rules, which will not result in disciplinary action against the officer. Nor is the act applicable to a criminal investigation of an officer or where other investigations pursuant to state or federal are required different investigatory procedures.

What am I entitled to in a civilian complaint?

An officer who is the subject of a complaint shall at a minimum be provided a written summary of the complaint prior to the interview. If a collective bargaining agreement applies, the complaint or written summary shall be provided pursuant to the procedures established under the collective bargaining agreement. If the complaint alleges domestic abuse, sexual abuse or sexual harassment, an officer shall not receive more than a written summary of the complaint.

In an interview, do I have to answer the questions or take a polygraph test? Can I have my attorney or representative with me?

An officer being interviewed shall be advised by the interviewer that the officer shall answer the question and the answers shall not be used against the officer in any subsequent criminal proceeding. The officer shall not be compelled to submit to a polygraph examination against the will of the officer except as provided under section 730.4 subsection 3. The officer shall have a right to legal counsel present at the officer’s expense during the interview. In addition, the officer shall have the right, at the officer’s expense, to have a union representative present during the interview or if not a member of a union, the officer shall have the right to have a designee present. The interview, at a minimum, must be audio recorded.

Where will the interview take place?

The interview must be conducted at an investigation agency facility. If the interview is conducted while the officer is off duty, the officer shall be compensated as provided by law, or as provided in the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

How long does my employer have to investigate the matter and when will I find out?

The investigation must be commenced and completed in a reasonable period of time. An officer must be immediately notified of the results of the investigation upon completion.

If I am disciplined as a result of an investigation, what information am I entitled to?

If the investigation results in disciplinary actions, copies of any witness statement and the investigative agency’s report shall be timely provided to the officer upon request.

What happens if my rights are violated?

If the investigation results in any discipline action against an officer and the officer alleges in writing a violation of the bill of rights, the employer shall withhold for a period of ten days, any punitive action taken as a result of the investigation, including reprimand. An allegation of violation of the act may be raised and given due consideration in any property authorized grievance or appeal exercised by the officer, including, but not limited to, grievances and appeal rights under Civil Service. The rights of the act are in addition to any other rights granted pursuant to collective bargaining agreement or other applicable law.

What if the complaint is determined to be false?

If a complaint is determined by the investigating officer to be false, the investigating officer shall be responsible for filing the necessary paperwork with the county attorney’s office in order for the county attorney to make a determination as to whether to charge the person criminally. An officer shall have the right to pursue civil remedies under the law against a citizen arising from the filing of a false complaint against the officer.

Do I have the right to run for office and engage in political activity?

Officers shall not be denied the opportunity to be a candidate for elected office as long as the officer’s candidacy does not violate the federal Hatch Act. However, an officer may be required as a condition of being a candidate, to take a leave of absence during the campaign. If the officer is subject to chapter 341A and is a candidate for county sheriff, the candidate upon the candidate’s request, shall automatically be given leave of absence without pay as provided under section 341A.18. Additionally, an officer shall have a right to engage in political activity except while on duty, as long as the political activity does not violate the federal Hatch Act. Finally, an officer shall not be required to engage in political activity.

Can I be punished for exercising my rights under the Act?

An officer shall not be discharged, disciplined, threatened with discharge, or disciplined in retaliation for exercising his or her rights under the act.

Our Employment And Labor Law Attorneys Protect Your Rights

At Hedberg & Boulton, P.C., our employment lawyers and labor law attorneys have decades of experience representing professionals, workers and employees in Iowa. They understand the special issues that peace officers and public safety employees face in the course of serving and protecting the public. If you are facing a civil complaint, our attorneys can protect your rights.

Call For A Free Consultation

At Hedberg & Boulton, P.C., we want to make sure your rights as a public safety or peace officer are protected. We offer free consultations to answer any of your specific questions. We look forward to telling you more about how we can help you with your case. Call us today at 515-446-9861 or send us an email through our website to schedule your free appointment.