General Order 12.1

Last Revised: 03-01-2017


This order consists of the following numbered sections:

12.1.1    Chain of command

12.1.2    Chain of command in absence of Chief of Police

12.1.3    Duty to obey lawful orders

12.1.1 Chain of command

The Chief of Police is the executive law enforcement officer of the City, chief custodian of the City Jail, and Harbormaster of the City of Olympia. The complete duties of the Chief of Police are incorporated in the Olympia Municipal Code, Section 2.36. The Chief of Police maintains complete authority and direct command over all functional units and members of the Department.

12.1.2 Chain of Command in absence of Chief of Police

I.    Chain of command for unplanned absences.

If the Chief of Police is absent or incapacitated, the command succession shall be:

A.    Deputy Chief

B.    Police lieutenant

C.    Member of Department Management Team

II.    Chain of command for planned absences.

The Chief will designate a member of the Department Management Team to serve as Acting Chief during a planned absence.

12.1.3 Duty to obey lawful orders

I.    Definitions

A.    Lawful: in this context, lawful means anything that does not cause the recipient of an order to violate the law. An order may, and often does, require the recipient to act in a manner that is reflective of a higher standard than is inherent in the law.

B.    Order: an order is an instruction, command, direction, or other expression, verbal or non-verbal, in which a ranking officer guides the actions of a subordinate officer. Ranking officers do not need to identify orders by declaration (e.g., saying something like, “That’s an order.”) except in situations where he/she wants to stress the fact that an order is being issued.

II.    Policy

A.    Employees are expected to follow the lawful orders of supervisors, including those orders relayed by another employee.

B.    Occasions may arise where a supervisor needs to issue an order to an employee outside of his/her direct span of control. Nothing in this section circumvents the authority of rank. (See 11.2.4, Functional Supervision.)

C.    Officers who are given an otherwise proper order which is in conflict with a previous order, rule, regulation, or directive, shall respectfully inform the supervisor issuing the order of the conflict.

D.    If the supervisor issuing the order does not correct the conflict, the conflictive order stands and responsibility for the conflict lies with the supervisor.

E.    Officers who are compelled to follow a conflicting order after having given the issuing supervisor the opportunity to correct the conflict are not held accountable for disobedience of the order, rule, regulation, or directive that was initially issued.

F.    Officers are not required to obey an order which would require the commission of any illegal act. If the legality of an order is in doubt, officers are to request the issuing supervisor to clarify the order or confer with higher authority.