Coord 309: Running an Investigation

Before the investigation begins

A DA investigation can be handled by a Regional level officer but before the investigation really gets started there are a few key steps to do. Once the key steps are done, if there is enough to proceed on, then the investigation is announced.

Define the disagreement/violation

The first step to starting an investigation is defining what is being looked into. It is important to get a clear and concise picture of the event /events before proceeding. Although it is possible to find multiple errors and problems while conducting an investigation, they are not necessarily the key source of the problem and could be considered aggravating factors to the overall case. It is possible however to find the root cause of several problems through the course of the investigation.

The scope of the investigation should have a clear cause and effect. Examples of clear causes and effects are:

  • Sally used the power incorrectly and a character died
  • John threw a tantrum and disrupted the game session

Is the primary problem a disagreement between members or a possible violation of the rules?

Once it has been defined what is being looked into, the presiding officer determines whether it is a disagreement or rules violation. This will determine whether the presiding officer needs to come from the Coordinator chain or Storyteller chain. It is not uncommon for an IC issue to quickly turn into an OOC issue. It is important that the core issue is discovered and addressed first and then look at any resulting issues.  Per the Roles and Responsibilities of the membership handbook, Coordinators deal with all out of game problems and Storytellers deal with all in games problems as they arise.

Who conducts the investigation and who does judgment?

Once the reviewing officer receives the investigation request, they will look at the alleged claim and decide if this sounds probable enough to investigate or if the alleged conduct should go through the mediation process. This chart explains who should handle what, based on level of possible offense and type problem that occurred.

Options

Definition

Level

Letter of Counseling

Unrecorded, typically for minor infractions and mistakes and first time offense.

Domain, Regional or National can issue Letters of Counseling

Minor Offense

Minor lapses in judgment or multiple Letters of Counseling for the same problem.

Regionals or National handles investigation

Moderate Offense

Lapses in judgment with notable effect.

Regionals or National handles investigation

Major Offense

Significant issues with broad effects.

Regionals or National handles investigation

Severe Offense

Serious offenses quite harmful to the club

Regionals or National handles investigation

Extreme Offense

In general this is reserved for only these categories of an infraction:

  • Causing physical harm injury or intentionally causing significant psychological harm to another member at a club event

  • Aggravated Harassment, such as unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature, at a club event.

National handles the investigation

Expulsion

Can be recommended during a situation that is considered an extremere offense

Board of Directors handles the recommendation

Formally announcing the Investigation

Formal notification of investigations needs to go out to the following:

  • the member that raised the complaint
  • the member that was accused
  • the direct coordinator of the accused member (if not the one notifying)
  • if a player issue, the direct storyteller of the accused member (if not the one notifying) if the accused member is an officer or assistant, their supervising officer

You can review an example notification email here to use as a form letter.

Gathering Evidence

An officer can take up to a month to gather the evidence. Make sure you that you have a clear understanding of both sides of the story and any previous situations that may have led to this case.

Types of Evidence:

  • Testimony: Player accounts of an event, personal vouchers of  a member’s character
  • Documentation: emails, character sheets, photos, electronic records
  • Physical: weapons, bruises

What to do when an investigation ends early

At any time during an official DA process, it is possible to start the mediation if all parties agree to go that route. More information about the mediation process can be found in Coord 342: How to do Conflict Resolution. In the event that that the investigation ends before you reach judgment either due to mediation or lack of evidence, the only requirement is to inform the parties that the investigation has been closed.

If it is determined that the behavior of either party was a minor first time offense, it might be necessary to write a letter of counselling even without a full formal investigation.

A full checklist of the Investigation process can be found here.