Employee Criminal/Illegal Activity & Wrongdoing
It is the policy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resource to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order by notification of the Office of Chief Legal Counsel, and, as directed, initiate investigation into allegations of criminal actions and or wrongdoing by any state employee or department official suspected. Nothing in this policy is intended to supersede existing Collective Bargaining Agreements.
Criminal/Illegal Activity on ODNR properties
It is the policy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that all criminal activity which occurs on agency owned land by parties not employed by the Department of Natural Resources will be investigated.
Employee Criminal/Illegal Activity & Wrongdoing
It is important to the success of this policy implementation that several inter-related key issues are understood at the outset.
- In order to encourage reporting, the supervisory chain of command may be bypassed. Individuals reporting illegal activity may remain anonymous. The agency will comply with the whistleblower statutes Ohio Revised Code 124.341 and Ohio Revised Code 4113.52. Employees who report conduct they believe is criminal or unethical must have a reasonable factual basis for believing that these activities have occurred.
- Any supervisor who does receive a complaint of alleged criminal/illegal activity and/or wrongdoing will contact The Department’s Chief Legal Counsel and Law Enforcement Administrator for direction.
- “Department” as used in this policy shall include all divisions and offices of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources,
- “Illegal Activity” as used in this policy includes, but is not limited to: fraud, theft, assault and other violations of local, state and/or federal law, including violations of state ethics laws, committed or in the process of being committed, by a state employee on any property owned or leased by the state or during the course of executing official duties.
- “Wrongdoing” as used in this policy includes a serious act or omission, committed by a state employee on any property owned or leased by the state or during the course of executing official duties. Wrongdoing is conduct that is not in accordance with standards of proper governmental conduct and which tends to subvert the process of government, including, but not limited, to: gross violations of departmental or agency policies and procedures or executive orders, acts of mismanagement, serious abuses of time, and other serious misconduct. For purposes of this reporting procedure, wrongdoing does not include illegal or suspected illegal activity. Likewise, wrongdoing may include activity that is most appropriately handled through the Department’s Office of Human Resources. (It is not the intent of the policy to require those reporting wrongdoing to determine whether the behavior meets the definition – err on the side of reporting the behavior)
- If criminal activity has been committed or is about to be committed and an immediate law enforcement response is necessary to protect life, human safety or property the Ohio State Highway Patrol should be immediately notified. Employees may utilize local 911 law enforcement responders.
- Any state employee that becomes aware of suspected non-emergency criminal and/or illegal activity shall immediately notify the Law Enforcement Administrator and or the Chief Legal Counsel of the Department orally and as soon as practical in writing.
- When the Law Enforcement Administrator or Chief Legal Counsel of the Department is notified or becomes aware of suspected or alleged criminal/illegal activity by any employee, the Law Enforcement Administrator or the Chief Legal Counsel of the Department shall notify the Chief Legal Counsel to the Governor and the Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety as soon as possible in writing.
- Because a criminal investigation may be necessary, the division or office in question will not conduct an administrative investigation until specifically notified by the Law Enforcement Administrator or Chief Legal Counsel that the criminal investigation has been completed. Administrative inquiries must give way to criminal investigations and no one suspected of illegal activity should be approached, disciplined or placed on administrative leave without said notification.
- Investigations being conducted by ODNR will be assigned immediately and conducted in a timely manner. ODNR will cease the investigation process at the request of the Department of Public Safety or the Chief Legal Counsel to the Governor.
- Non-interview investigatory information regarding illegal activity will be shared with criminal investigators as will any information not protected under a Garrity Warning. Employees may be questioned administratively regarding information gained or statements provided in a criminal investigation and such evidence may be used to take administrative action.
EMPLOYEE SERIOUS WRONGDOING PROCEDURE
- Whenever any state employee becomes aware of wrongdoing by any state employee, that employee shall immediately notify the Law Enforcement Administrator and or the Chief Legal Counsel of the department. The notification may be oral but shall be submitted in writing as soon as possible.
- When the Law Enforcement Administrator or Chief Legal Counsel of the department becomes aware of suspected wrongdoing by any employee, the Office of the Inspector General should be contacted directly, as soon as possible. A copy of the written notification shall be sent to the Office of the Chief Legal Counsel to the Governor and the Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
- The Law Enforcement Administrator for the Department shall keep a record of the cases reported to the Inspector General and Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel. To the fullest extent possible, this record should include an updated status of the investigation. The Law Enforcement Administrator shall notify the Director of Public Safety and the Chief Legal Counsel to the Governor when the criminal/illegal activity investigation is completed. ODNR will provide copies of the final investigatory report to the Chief Legal Counsel to the Governor and the Director of Public Safety upon request.
- All records pertaining to an active criminal investigation are confidential law enforcement investigatory records pursuant to R.C. § 149.43 (A) (1)(h).
- Any reporting employee may also contact the Inspector General and file a written complaint or file a complaint using the Inspector General’s anonymous hotline at (800) 686-1525 in the case of wrongdoing or non-emergency criminal/illegal activity.
- If the Governor or any member of his immediate staff, a Department Director and/or Chief Legal Counsel, is suspected of illegal activity or wrongdoing, the Inspector General should be contacted directly. The Inspector General will then initiate the appropriate investigation.
- The normal procedure for notification to the Chief Legal Counsel to the Governor or the Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety is suspended in the cases covered by this section.
CRIMINAL/ILLEGAL ACTIVITY ON ODNR PROPERTIES
- All criminal/illegal activity uncovered occurring on department owned lands and facilities will be investigated.
- Divisions with commissioned law enforcement staff who have territorial jurisdiction will initiate investigations as soon as possible. All investigations will be documented utilizing incident based reporting and division assigned case numbers. In cases where an immediate response is required and no ODNR commissioned officer is readily available, employees should dial 911 for the closest enforcement responder. No employee will be disciplined for utilizing emergency law enforcement responding agencies other than the State Highway Patrol under emergency circumstance.
- Divisions and Offices who identify criminal/illegal activity and do not have commissioned law enforcement staff will contact the State Highway Patrol. In cases where an immediate response is required employees should dial 911 for the closest enforcement responder. For non-emergency law enforcement response the State Highway Patrol will be contacted. If the State Highway Patrol cannot be contacted or is not available the Law Enforcement Administrator or an Office of Law Enforcement Staff Officer will be contacted for guidance and direction.