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CHAPTER 9.6 - Firefighters | Califonrnia Government Code - GOV | Section 3253.

3253. When any firefighter is under investigation and subjected to interrogation by his or her commanding officer, or any other member designated by the employing department or licensing or certifying agency, that could lead to punitive action, the interrogation shall be conducted under the following conditions:

(a) The interrogation shall be conducted at a reasonable hour, at a time when the firefighter is on duty, unless an imminent threat to the safety of the public requires otherwise. If the interrogation does occur during off-duty time of the firefighter being interrogated, the firefighter shall be compensated for any off-duty time in accordance with regular department procedures. The firefighter s compensation shall not be reduced as a result of any work missed while being interrogated.

(b) The firefighter under investigation shall be informed, prior to the interrogation, of the rank, name, and command of the officer or other person in charge of the interrogation, the interrogating officer, and all other persons to be present during the interrogation. All questions directed to the firefighter under interrogation shall be asked by and through no more than two interrogators at one time.

(c) The firefighter under investigation shall be informed of the nature of the investigation prior to any interrogation.

(d) The interrogating session shall be for a reasonable period taking into consideration the gravity and complexity of the issue being investigated. The person under interrogation shall be allowed reasonable breaks to attend to his or her own personal physical necessities.

(e) (1) The firefighter under interrogation shall not be subjected to offensive language or threatened with punitive action. A promise of reward shall not be made as an inducement to answering any question. The employer shall provide to, and obtain from, an employee a formal grant of immunity from criminal prosecution, in writing, before the employee may be compelled to respond to incriminating questions in an interrogation. Subject to that grant of immunity, a firefighter refusing to respond to questions or submit to interrogations shall be informed that the failure to answer questions directly related to the investigation or interrogation may result in punitive action.

(2) The employer shall not cause the firefighter under interrogation to be subjected to visits by the press or news media without his or her express written consent free of duress, and the firefighter s photograph, home address, telephone number, or other contact information shall not be given to the press or news media without his or her express written consent.

(f) A statement made during interrogation by a firefighter under duress, coercion, or threat of punitive action shall not be admissible in any subsequent judicial proceeding, subject to the following qualifications:

(1) This subdivision shall not limit the use of statements otherwise made by a firefighter when the employing fire department is seeking civil service sanctions against any firefighter, including disciplinary action brought under Section 19572.

(2) This subdivision shall not prevent the admissibility of statements otherwise made by the firefighter under interrogation in any civil action, including administrative actions, brought by that firefighter, or that firefighter s exclusive representative, arising out of a disciplinary action.

(g) The complete interrogation of a firefighter may be recorded. If a recording is made of the interrogation, the firefighter shall have access to the recording if any further proceedings are contemplated or prior to any further interrogation at a subsequent time. The firefighter shall be entitled to a transcribed copy of any notes made by a stenographer or to any reports or complaints made by investigators or other persons, except those portions that are otherwise required by law to be kept confidential. Notes or reports that are deemed to be confidential shall not be entered in the firefighter s personnel file. The firefighter being interrogated shall have the right to bring his or her own recording device and record any and all aspects of the interrogation.

(h) If, prior to or during the interrogation of a firefighter, it is contemplated that he or she may be charged with a criminal offense, he or she shall be immediately informed of his or her constitutional rights.

(i) Upon the filing of a formal written statement of charges, or whenever an interrogation focuses on matters that may result in punitive action against any firefighter, that firefighter, at his or her request, shall have the right to be represented by a representative of his or her choice who may be present at all times during the interrogation. The representative shall not be a person subject to the same investigation. The representative shall not be required to disclose, or be subject to any punitive action for refusing to disclose, any information received from the firefighter under investigation for noncriminal matters.

This section shall not be construed to apply to counseling, instruction, or informal verbal admonishment by, or other routine or unplanned contact with, a supervisor or any other firefighter.

(j) A firefighter shall not be loaned or temporarily reassigned to a location or duty assignment if a firefighter in his or her department would not normally be sent to that location or would not normally be given that duty assignment under similar circumstances.

(Added by Stats. 2007, Ch. 591, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2008.)

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Last modified: July 19, 2016