The Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (POBR) contains many requirements. One requirement of particular concern to workplace investigators is the "notice" requirement. POBR states that the public safety officer under investigation shall be informed of the "nature" of the investigation "prior" to the interrogation.
Of course, this begs the questions– How much detail? How much prior notice?
Detail in Notice. How much detail must the officer be given beforehand to meet the “informed of the nature of the investigation” requirement? Although POBR does not specifically tell us, it should be more than a generic interrogation notice, but less than providing each and every specific factual allegation against the peace officer. A notice providing the general nature of the allegations, with adequate content to understand the charges, might look like this:
It has been alleged that you have engaged in conduct that violates the department’s sexual harassment policies. The alleged conduct includes inappropriate comments, touching, emails, computer usage, and photographs over the course of six months.
The particulars of these allegations must then be fully explored during the investigative interview.
Time of Notice. How far in advance must the public safety officer be informed of the nature of the investigation? Again, POBR does not directly state the specifics of the “notice” requirement. Courts have used a “rule of reasonableness,” recognizing that peace officers should receive the notice far enough in advance so as to be able to prepare an adequate response.