Complaint Process

POLICY

It is policy to receive all complaints made against Department personnel. All complaint information shall be in writing and forwarded up the chain-of-command to the Chief's attention.

PROCEDURES

When a complaint is received, and if substantial evidence exists to support the complaint, the Chief of Police or designee will file formal charges. If the facts of the investigation do not support a charge filed against the member, no further action will be taken. The accused and accuser shall receive a written copy pertaining to the final disposition of all complaints.

CITIZEN COMPLAINTS

A citizen may register a complaint through various means, but the preferred method is a written Police/Citizen Complaint Form (#04.01.00A). Other method’s by which a complaint may be received is;

  1. Orally, by the citizen, directly to a police employee
  2. Telephone or E-mail
  3. Through a third party
  4. Referral through another agency

When a citizen notifies a member of the Division that they wish to make a complaint against an officer or other employee, the on-duty patrol shift supervisor shall receive the initial complaint. The supervisor will try to address the citizen’s concerns to the greatest extent possible. If the citizen’s situation cannot be resolved, the supervisor will issue a citizen’s complaint form. This form is to be completed, as thoroughly as possible. A supervisor shall not defer the taking of a complaint to another officer unless he is the one named in the complaint. An officer will not receive or investigate a complaint in which he is named. The complaint will be forwarded to the Chief of Police, who will notify the Captain of the complaint and the Captain will then assign a Supervisor to investigate the complaint. Normally, the immediate supervisor of an officer will investigate a complaint.

CLASSIFICATION OF COMPLAINTS

Complaints are classified as major and minor.

  1. Major - A complaint that, if proven, would likely lead to demotion, suspension, termination, and/or possible criminal charges. Major complaints will be investigated through a full internal investigative procedure.
  2. Minor - A complaint of a routine nature that, if sustained, would not warrant more than a verbal counseling, written warning, or a written reprimand. Minor complaints will be investigated by the member's first-line supervisor, or the supervisor-in-charge.

MEMBER'S RIGHTS

  1. A member subjected to an investigation imposed by this policy shall be afforded all criminal, civil, and/or contractual rights that are applicable.
  2. In the event a member is suspected of committing a crime, no administrative investigation will commence until after conferring with appropriate prosecutorial authorities.
  3. In the course of an internal investigation, a polygraph examination or CVSA may be administered at the Chief's discretion. Parties shall not use the results of such examination for any purpose in a subsequent court action.
  4. When a member is interviewed in an investigation of a member of another agency, such interview shall be conducted in accordance with these procedures.
  5. If the rights of the member who is under investigation are violated, the violation shall be subject to the dispute settlement or grievance procedure as provided in the contract.
  6. Internal investigations with regard to minor violations shall be completed within forty-five calendar days after the filing of the complaint.

ANONYMOUS COMPLAINTS

  1. When an anonymous complaint is made, the member shall be apprised of the circumstance, as much as practicable, without compromising the integrity of a possible investigation.
  2. When a single anonymous complaint is made and there is no corroborative evidence, the member shall not be required to submit to an interrogation or make a report. In the event there is corroborative evidence, the member shall be required to submit to an interrogation and/or make a report or statement. A confidential complaint shall not be considered an anonymous complaint, except in the instance in which the person making the complaint is unwilling to testify in any subsequent hearing.
  3. When no complaint has been received and there is no reason to suspect a violation has occurred, no administrator, command officer, or supervisor shall initiate solicitation of a complaint against a member.

COMPLAINT PROCESSING

  1. A major complaint investigation, other than a criminal complaint involving felony violation, shall be completed within one hundred calendar days after the filing of the original complaint, unless, upon request to the Chief of Police, an extension of time for such investigation to be completed is granted. The member must be notified of the Chief of Police's decision upon the granting of the extension request.
  2. Criminal complaints involving felony investigations shall be investigated and completed in accordance with the statute of limitations set forth in the Ohio Revised Code. Complaints of this nature may be referred to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office or the State of Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) for investigation.
  3. The Chief of Police or his designee may divulge the fact that a particular member is under investigation, but there shall be no release of any additional information by the Department or the member under investigation until such investigation is completed and the member is either cleared or charged.
  4. A member who is being investigated shall receive written notice of its disposition within 120 hours per contractual guidelines.

INTERVIEW GUIDELINES

NOTE: The following are provided as guidelines only, and the specifics of an individual case may dictate an alternate procedure. Garrity Warning and Miranda Warning forms will be used when appropriate.

  1. If so desired, the member may waive the opportunity to have a pre-disciplinary conference and admit or deny the allegations in writing.
  2. Interrogations and interviews shall be conducted at a reasonable hour (when practicable), preferably during the member's work shift. Such sessions shall be for reasonable periods of time and time shall be allowed for rest periods and physical necessities.
  3. The member will be told the names, job titles, positions, and employers of all interviewers.
  4. The member will, as soon and as practicable depending on the nature of the complaint, but prior to questioning, be informed of the type of complaint and the nature of the complaint.
  5. Unless it would jeopardize the investigation or a reasonable possibility exists that the complainant may be retaliated against, the name of the complainant will be told to the member during the investigative phase.
  6. If the identity of the complainant is revealed, the member will be informed to initiate no contact with the complainant nor engage in any act that might be construed as retaliatory in nature. To do so will result in severe disciplinary action up to and including termination.
  7. If applicable, a member questioned as a suspect in any criminal investigation shall be advised of his/her constitutional rights prior to any questioning. If the member refuses to waive these rights, the interview will be stopped until the case is reviewed with the prosecutor.
  8. If a member is charged with a violation of the Department's policies or standards for refusal to answer questions or to participate in the investigation, the member shall be advised that the interview is administrative in nature, that the member is being ordered to cooperate, that self-incriminating statements cannot be used against her/him in a criminal proceeding, and that refusal to cooperate will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination for insubordination.
    (Garrity Warning)
  9. The interview may be taped (i.e., audio, video, or both)

EMPLOYEES’ RESPONSIBILITIES

Members shall cooperate fully in all phases of an administrative investigation. This includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth during all interviews and other questioning.
  2. Cooperating fully with the legitimate needs of management.
  3. Being respectful to all persons involved in the investigation.
  4. Making themselves available at times and locations determined necessary by administrative personnel.
  5. Following the lawful instructions of administrative personnel related to confidentiality of information.
  6. Keeping administrative personnel aware of any information that could reasonably be expected to affect the nature or integrity of the investigation.
  7. Submitting to a lawful order to cooperate in a polygraph/CVSA, submit to a medical examination, be photographed, participate in a line-up, or provide financial disclosure information if so directed by the Chief of Police or designee.

Note: When a complaint involves a non-criminal matter from a citizen and there is no collaborating information, a member will not be required to submit to a polygraph/CVSA unless the complainant is also willing to submit to a polygraph/CVSA.

CRIMINAL CHARGES

  1. A member charged with a crime or under indictment that is not discharged may be placed on Administrative leave pending resolution of court proceedings. Accrued vacation, holidays, or other paid leave may be used during this time
  2. A member found guilty by a court of a serious crime or felony is subject to termination. If the charges are reduced to a misdemeanor or the member is found innocent of the charges, the member may still be subject to progressive discipline up to and including termination if administrative violations are found to have occurred.

RECORDS

All records, reports, letters, memoranda, and other documents relating to an internal investigation into the conduct of a member having the powers of a peace officer are considered to be Confidential Law Enforcement Investigatory Records, and are the property of the Department. Their release will only be in accordance with public records law.