In the past year a number of issues have been brought before the Southwest Conference Executive Committee regarding confusion of how chapters are supposed to work, who does what, what the chapter is responsible for, issues with Discipline, etc. As such, we thought we might clarify some things.
First, this is primarily for informational purposes only. We are not here telling anyone that they are or have done things wrong or that you being required to change how you conduct your business. We’ll cover some things that are covered in the International Bylaws and the Conference Procedures. While not a lot, International does specify some things that they expect each chapter to follow. We will also discuss and offer some suggestions that have worked in other chapters – suggestions that you can take back to your chapter and see if they work for you.
So that we are all on the same plane, I’ll be covering stuff that most of you may already know, or have forgotten. This is not meant to insult anyone but ensure that we all have the basics.
Let’s start with the Purpose of Chapters:
Intl By-Laws state: All chapters must be established by the Board of Directors in accordance with the provisions of these Bylaws relating to the granting of charters for the formation of chapters. A chapter so established may exercise full power and authority over chapter business to the extent that the transaction of chapter business is consistent with the Constitution (Articles of Incorporation) and Bylaws of the International. Each chapter may adopt bylaws for the conduct of its business. Chapter government is responsible for the organization of corporate activities at the chapter level, including without limitations, the collection of International dues from its members overseeing the requirements of its membership and compliance by its members with the overall purposes of the International. (Intl Bylaws Cited). This is what gives chapters the authority to exist and do what we do…
One area that consistently has come up as a chapter problem has been in the way situations are addressed differently from one occurrence to another or from one individual and another. So let me start by suggesting that each chapter develop a set of Chapter Procedures. This is putting to paper how you’ve been conducting business – and then follow it.
Chapter Procedures accomplishes a number of things; everyone is on the same sheet of music as to how we do business, it lays out who does what and what authority they have, it takes personalities & hopefully politics out of the picture, and gives continuity to each administration of the chapter. Basically it takes away the statements like “anyone remember how we did this last time?”…or “you did it this way for him/her”
I know this is semantics but International requires each chapter that develops Chapter Bylaws to submit them for approval to International. If a chapter develops a set of “procedures” this does not need approval. To make sure that International does not get any heartburn with what you’re doing, I’d specify in your procedures that nothing is meant to contradict any Intl bylaws, etc. That Intl Rules and Bylaws supersede any chapter procedures.
So what do you put into the Procedures? How about spelling out how the chapter officers and positions will conduct chapter business? The who, what, where and when we have our picnics, meetings, etc. Specifying the behaviors we wish for our members to exhibit…naming but a few items to add.
Chapter Officers – duties & responsibilities:
International By-Laws state the following:
SECTION 6.02. Chapter Officers:
Chapter Officers shall be the President, Immediate Past President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Directors. Other positions may be established and elected as determined by the chapter members in accordance with elections, which are consistent with the Constitution and Bylaws of the International. Only Regular members may hold the offices of President and Vice President of a chapter. Associate members may hold the offices of Secretary and Treasurer provided that there are no Regular members available to hold those positions. A single person may hold both the Secretary and Treasurer’s offices. The powers and obligations of Chapter Officers shall be commensurate with the powers and duties of International Officers as outlined in these Bylaws, with respect to Chapter business. (Intl Bylaws cited)
SECTION 6.03. COMMITTEES
Chapter committees may be established in accordance with procedures set out in these Bylaws for the establishment of International committees, except that such committees shall be established under the authority of Chapter Officers. (Intl Bylaws cited)
Chapter positions descriptions are to be basically in concurrence with what is listed for International Officers.
Most chapters designate the following position description for the position of President…primarily derived from the Intl Officer descriptions: The Presidents are to conduct chapter meetings and may call for special staff meetings for the purpose of emergency chapter business. You are under the direction of your Board of Directors whose main responsibility is to oversee the fiduciary conduct of the chapter. You, as President, are responsible to maintain chapter business in accordance to International By-laws and Constitution. You have no vote on the Board of Directors other than as a tie breaker and all actions taken by you must be approved by the Board who represent the membership. The biggest burden is maintaining the everyday operations of the chapter. You have the authority to nominate persons to chapter positions such as Quartermaster, Safety Officer, Web Administrator, Etc. presenting their name to the board who will take a vote to approve or not approve the appointment.
Most chapters designate the following position description for the position of Vice-President: Your duties are to conduct chapter business in the absence of the Chapter President. The VP also should be a member of all committee’s appointed to be a resource of information to the Board of Directors and to report committee progress to General Membership.
Your major responsibility is Recruitment and Retention of chapter members. This is more time consuming but one of the most important jobs of a board member.
I am going to break up this position. While it can be held by one member, it’s much simpler to have two persons in my opinion.
The Secretary is in charge of all chapter books, documents and papers. The secretary must maintain an alphabetical roster of all current chapter members. (A copy of the member’s application should be maintained to include former members of the chapter and such book shall be open for inspection as prescribed by law. The Secretary shall collect all yearly dues from membership and turn the same over to the Treasurer upon demand, taking a receipt therefore. The Secretary is responsible for memorializing the minutes of all chapter General and Staff meetings. These minutes are subject to review by the State and Federal Agencies posted (Note: these minutes must be reviewed by the board and available to the membership for review. Once reviewed, they should be voted on for acceptance as per Robert’s Rules of Order. Mr. Secretary you have a very demanding but important job.
The Treasurer has custody of all funds, subject to such regulations as may be imposed by the Board of Directors. The Treasurer may be required to give bond for the faithful performance of his/her duties, in such sum and with such sureties as the Board of Directors may require. The Treasurer shall receive all funds, depositing the same in the name of the Chapter in such bank of trust company as may be designated by the Board of Directors and keep accurate record of all receipts and disbursements. When necessary or proper, the Treasurer may co-sign with the designated individual on behalf of the Chapter checks, notes and other obligations. The Treasurer shall make a full report of the financial status of the Chapter at each Staff meeting, and upon request, at any meeting of the membership. The treasurer shall, in general, perform the entire duties incident to the office of Treasurer, subject to the control of the Board of Directors.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
International states the following for the Board of Directors:
SECTION 6.04. BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The business and property of each chapter shall be managed and controlled by a Board of Directors who shall be elected annually or bi-annually by the chapter members to hold office until the next annual meeting of the members or until the election or qualification of their respective successors. The Board of Directors shall consist of Chapter President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Immediate Past President, as well as three (3) additional directors, or if the Secretary and Treasurer are held as one office then four (4) additional directors, who must be elected from the Regular membership of the Chapter at the annual, bi-annual or any special meeting. An Associate member may hold the offices of Secretary, Treasurer, and of a Director provided that there are no Regular members available to hold those positions. The members of the Chapter may establish other positions to be held by elected Chapter members for the conduct of Chapter business.
Provisions of these Bylaws relating to the conduct of business by the International Board of Directors shall apply to actions of any Chapter Board of Directors so far as applicable.
Basically all this states is that you have a set of 3 or 4 directors in addition to the executive officers that are responsible for the fiduciary and property of the chapter. You need approval of the board to purchase a postage stamp, organize a benefit ride or pay some person for designing and making chapter pins. In other words everything you do is a team effort to continue a consistent and uniform operation of a Blue Knight Chapter, no more – no less.
Chapter Positions and possible position descriptions:
Safety Officer – Duties: The safety officer will review Chapter activities to ensure member/guest safety at all events. Provide periodic training of chapter members and submit safety articles to the monthly Chapter News Letter. Coordinate with other chapter safety officers, and Southwest Conference and International Safety Officers to ensure all safety guidelines are in place.
Ride Coordinator – Duties: Establish and coordinate all chapter rides; however these duties may be delegated to other chapter members.
Advertising Coordinator – Duties: Actively pursues local businesses to advertise in the chapter newsletter. Follow up with current advertisers at renewal times. Funds from advertising will be submitted to the Chapter Treasurer.
Photographer – Duties: Takes pictures of all Blue Knight Chapter events, and new members joining the chapter. Submit pictures to the Webmaster to be included in the members section of the chapter web site. Submit photographs as required to the Editor for insertion in the Chapter Newsletter.
Sunshine Person – Duties: Advise the Board of Directors of members in distress, and encourage distribution of appropriate information to the general membership, ensures that cards and or flowers are sent to members or associates at the direction of one of the elected chapter officers.
– Newsletter Editor: Shall coordinate/edit/publish the chapter newsletter in accordance with established editorial policy.
My chapters editorial policy reads as follows:
Articles deemed appropriate include but are not limited to: articles regarding motorcycle oriented stories, police functions or informational / technical topics. As a reminder, any submissions of re-printed articles must clearly give credit to the original author. Copyrighted material must have permission of the author to be eligible. This can be remedied by writing up an outline of the article and by referencing the original author.
Articles that are deemed inappropriate for publication include and are not limited to: articles regarding controversial or personal choices (such as religious positions or advocacy for questionable action). Questions of material that does not clearly fall within the guidelines will be brought to the attention of the Chapter President, by the Editor, for review and decision of appropriateness. If necessary, the Board may review the article and make a final decision.
– Webmaster: Establish, maintain, and coordinate activities related to the chapter website. Regularly update the Chapter website, and keep postings current. The website is the first impression of your chapter. No offensive or questionable statements, articles, or pictures should be included.
– Quartermaster: Procures/stores and sells all chapter items in the store. All proceeds turned over to chapter treasurer.
– Greeters/tickets sales: Greet all members and new guests as they enter the general membership meeting. Ensure that all members/guests sign the attendance logbook. Coordinate and sell all tickets for raffles, door prizes, etc. All proceeds are to be turned over to the Treasurer.
Another issue that might be good to include in your chapter procedures involves member discipline:
Discipline has become a hot issue with chapters and International as a whole. I know of at least 8 incidences in the Southwest Conference during the last three years that have, or should have involved chapter discipline. These incidences have involved felony & misdemeanor charges; such as DUI, attempted murder, brandishing a firearm, etc. How each chapter has handled these have been very diverse…everything from waiting to see how things turn out to immediate suspension pending the outcome of court cases.
Discipline involves behavior that the chapter believes is “cause for action”. At this point, there is no consistency in what “cause for action” means. I was at an International Convention where a chapter stated during the business meeting that they remove members “for cause” if it’s members do not attend 85% of their chapter events. Other chapters have felt that a DUI is not cause for removal. At this point, each chapter needs to figure out what “for cause” means to them. International is presently looking into establishing a list of “causes”, and once this is established each chapter will finally have some consistent direction.
The bottom line is that we need to appear to the outside that we do not tolerate those individuals who commit acts that would bring disrepute to the image of the Blue Knights. Most departments also have “non-association” clauses forbidding associating with those who have committed certain acts. Basically this means other members may not participate in Blue Knight activities while the Blue Knight awaiting charges is possibly in attendance. In plain terms…to protect one we may lose many others.
Another issue, and one that I have been personally dealing with in San Diego County, is fighting with local agencies because they have the impression that our members are outlaws. While the problem in San Diego is largely due to the three piece patch, other agencies have attempted to point to specific incidences. These have included violation of traffic laws while wearing their colors to drinking in public (on own time while at the beach).
If we do not take care of keeping our house in order – then, at a minimum, we are shooting ourselves in the foot with recruitment and retention efforts.
While International has a lot of verbiage regarding discipline, International gives very little specific direction. Basically all they deal with is how appeals may be heard and by whom for suspensions and removals of membership. The only real direction they require of chapters is that each chapter must have a process for a disciplined member to appeal within the chapter. Does anyone hear “chapter procedures” here?
How should each chapter deal with discipline? I can’t answer that. I can address how CA VI has chosen to deal with it…and this may or may not work for you. Each chapter needs to decide what’s best for them.
CA VI Procedures:
DISCIPLINE OF A CHAPTER MEMBER:
Disciplining of chapter members may occur due to activities within our chapter/organization or within their personal lives that brings disrepute to the chapter or organization as a whole. Chapter discipline may include warnings, or suspension for a set period of time, up to removal from the organization.
Offences shall include any conviction of one or more felonies, violent misdemeanours, or offences relating to moral turpitudes (such as soliciting prostitution, embezzlement, etc), and/or conduct prejudicial to the good order and/or bring discredit to the image of the chapter or organization as a whole. Based on the seriousness of the offence, the member may be given a warning, suspension or removal for the first offence.
IVESTIGATION PROCEDURE AT CHAPTER LEVEL:
Once a complaint or information is brought to the attention of the Board of Directors, the Board shall convene at the soonest to identify the problem and decide what investigations are warranted. The investigation may include original complaint, statement of witnesses, and statement of facts from accused member. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Board of Directors will hear the evidence and offer the member the option of making a presentation before a final decision has been made. Notwithstanding other provisions of the Constitution and Bylaws of the International, or Southwest Conference – the Chapter Board may censure, suspend or remove the member for cause.
Notification to member:
Prior to suspension or removal, the member will be served written notice containing a specific outline of the charges and proposed action to be taken. Such notice to the member may be by personal service or certified mail return receipt requested.
Suspension pending investigation:
In urgent circumstances, where immediate action is necessary to protect the involved parties or the organization from civil liability, criminal liability, or that may harm the positive image of the organization – action shall be taken immediately by the Chapter Board of Directors to temporarily suspend a member. The suspended member shall be granted a reconsideration hearing and appeal to the Chapter President if requested within seven (7) days. Reconsideration hearing shall be at earliest convenience for both parties.
Appeal by member:
No action will go into effect until the member waives his/her right to appeal the decision, or the allotted time for appeal to the next level has expired, or all appeals have been exhausted and the appeal has been denied by the final arbitrating board, or designated committee thereof. All appeals within the chapter will be heard by the Chapter President.
If a member is dissatisfied with a decision, member must appeal within thirty (30) days of receipt of written notice of the decision. Said appeal may be in person or in writing but in all cases a written brief shall be submitted. Appeals of final chapter decisions will be heard at the Conference level. (CA VI Procedures)
How each chapter deals with this issue is best done when an issue is not on the table, and/or no personalities come into play. Having it down on paper before an issue arises negates favouritism or politics. Everyone is dealt with in the same manner and gives no redress for being treated differently than others.
I started out this presentation stating that we are not here to say that you are doing things wrong, or that you are being required to do things differently. Instead, I have put some things on the table that may work for you & your chapter.
If I can stress only one thing…get yourself a set of chapter procedures. It’ll alleviate so many potential problems. Of the chapter issues brought forth to the Conference Executive Committee in the last 2 years, at least 85% of the problems could have been easily resolved had a chapter procedure already been in place for each chapter. Each chapter member would have known what was expected of them and what they could expect out of their fellow Knights.
This presentation was to be given at the 2010 Southwest Conference business meeting. Due to time limitations we were unable to do so. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at the following:
Glenn Carpenter – Southwest Vice Chairman (West)
Glenn72@cox.net or (619)913-9050
International By-Laws regarding Discipline
ARTICLE X. DISCIPLINE
SECTION 10.01. CHAPTER/CONFERENCE SUSPENSION OR REMOVAL OF
Notwithstanding other provisions of the Constitution and Bylaws of the International, a
Chapter/Conference may suspend or remove a member for cause. Prior to suspension or
removal, the member will be served written notice containing a specific outline of the charges against him and proposed action to be taken. Such notice to the member may be by personal service or certified mail return receipt requested. However, no action will go into effect until the member waives his right to appeal the decision, the allotted time for appeal to the next level has expired, or all appeals have been exhausted and the appeal has been denied by the final arbitrating board, or designated committee thereof.
In emergency circumstances, where immediate action is necessary to protect the involved parties or the organization from civil liability or criminal liability, action may be taken immediately by the International Board and the member/former member will be allowed a reconsideration hearing within the allotted time for an appeal under normal circumstances.
SECTION 10.02. PROCEDURE AT CHAPTER/CONFERENCE LEVEL
Chapters and conferences may establish a fair and just discipline system provided there is at least one level of appeal offered at the level where the discipline is initiated. If a member is dissatisfied with a decision, he must appeal within thirty (30) days of receipt of written notice of the decision. Said appeal may be in person or by written brief, in either case, a written brief shall be submitted. Appeals of final chapter decisions will be heard at the conference level. An appeal of a final conference level decision will be heard by the International Board or a committee designated by the board to hear such an appeal.
All final decisions at the conference level shall be subject to review by the International Board or a committee designated by the Board for the purposes of such review if a review is requested by the disciplined member or the party or committee making the final decision at the chapter or conference level within thirty (30) days of such final decision. Notice of request for review will be sent to the involved parties, member, chapter, and/or conference. Failure by the member or other parties to the action to appeal or request a review within the thirty (30) days shall be considered to be a waiver of the right to appeal the decision.
SECTION 10.03. PROCEDURES FOR REVIEW BY INTERNATIONAL BOARD OF
The International Board of Directors will give all parties concerned the right to submit written documentation and appear before the Board or the appropriate designated committee of the International Board for the purposes of a review of a final conference decision. A decision rendered by the Board after a full hearing by the board or its designated committee shall be considered final. The Secretary of the Corporation or such other person as the Board may designate shall keep a written synopsis of the final hearing before the Board which shall contain a file of any documents submitted as evidence at the hearing.
SECTION 10.04. SUSPENSION OR REMOVAL OF MEMBERS BY THE
INTERNATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The International board of Directors may by its own motion decide to suspend or remove any member for cause. In all cases the Board of Directors shall notify the member of its decision by mailing notice of the decision to the member’s last known address by certified mail return receipt requested. The affected member shall be granted a hearing for the purposes of reconsideration of the Board’s decision, by the Board or a committee designated by the Board for the purposes of such a hearing, if the member requests said hearing within thirty (30) days of receipt of the decision of the board. Such request shall be in writing mailed to the Secretary of the International Board C/O the International Headquarters Office. The member shall have the right to submit written documentation and to appear before the Board or its designated committee at the reconsideration hearing. The Board shall issue its final decision within sixty (60) days of the date of the reconsideration hearing. An appeal or review of the Boards final decision shall be granted by the International Board of governors if requested by the member within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice of the Board’s final decision. This review of appeal shall be heard according to the rules of the Board of Governors who may, by an affirmative vote of eighty percent (80%) of the membership of the Board of Governors present and eligible to vote at their annual meeting, overrule the final decision of the Board of Directors.
No action will go into effect until the member waives his rights to appeal or review, the allotted time for an appeal or review has expired, or the appeal has been denied by the final arbitrating board.
In emergency circumstances, where immediate action is necessary to protect the involved parties or the organization from civil liability or criminal liability, action may be taken immediately by the Board of Directors to suspend or remove a member. The suspended member or former member shall be granted a reconsideration hearing and appeal to the Board of Governors if requested within the normally allotted time for such requests.
SECTION 10.05. Any individual that has been found a non-member (having his membership revoked), shall not be allowed, to attend any Blue Knight function, either as a guest or, attend in any manner what so ever.
Any individual who has had his or her membership suspended for any length of time, for disciplinary reasons, will also not be allowed to attend any Blue Knight function during the period of suspension, as a guest or in any manner what so ever. (This section would not apply until all appeals have been exhausted.)
Any member who knowingly brings a member not in good standing or a suspended member to any Blue Knight function shall;
a.) Be disciplined up to and including loss of membership in this organization.
Any Chapter that knowingly allows a member not in good standing or a suspended member to remain in attendance at any Blue Knight function could also have their Charter revoked.
No chapter or member will be disciplined if they are unaware of the individual’s status. If any member sees a former member (as listed above) they will inform the sponsoring Chapter or Conference of that member’s status so proper action can be taken.
Only those events exclusively for Blue Knights and not open and advertised to the public would be affected. (Intl By-Laws cited)