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The Santa Clara Police Department is committed to providing high quality police service to the community.  In order to be responsive to community needs, it is necessary to have citizen input. The Santa Clara Police Department encourages recommendations from the public on ways to improve our services.  We welcome commendations for personnel who perform their duties exceptionally well and encourage inquiries and complaints about questionable performance, actions, policies or procedures.

Your constructive comments about our service will help us maintain our high level of service and foster a healthy relationship with the community.  

Michael J. Sellers Chief of Police  

Citizen’s Guide to Making Commendations, Inquiries or Complaints

Citizen's Process for Commending Exceptional Performance

Recognition of exceptional performance is also a valuable component of the citizen feedback process.  Commendations, either verbal or written, are one of the best ways you can let someone know that you appreciate their good work.

Commendations received by the Chief of Police are forwarded to the employee with a copy placed in his or her personnel file.  Your commendation will also be posted on the Department’s bulletin board to be read by all employees.  Although our employees don’t expect to be thanked for everything they do, recognition of exceptional service is always constructive.  Positive feedback lets us know if we are doing a first-rate job.  

Citizen’s Inquiry and Complaint Process

What is a Citizen’s Inquiry?

A Citizen’s Inquiry is any contact with a citizen in reference to an issue of concern that does not require a formal investigation.  The Citizen’s Inquiry process seeks to resolve the issue at an informal level, to the satisfaction of the citizen, by means of discussion, explanation or clarification.  Citizen’s Inquiries are generally handled by an on-duty supervisor.  A Citizen’s Inquiry that is not resolved can become a Citizen’s Complaint.

What is a Citizen’s Complaint?

A Citizen’s Complaint is a formal documentation involving:

1.      a complaint against Personnel;

2.      a complaint against Department policy or procedure;

which was not resolved at the Citizen’s Inquiry level or because the nature of the allegation may require an administrative and/or criminal investigation. All Citizens’ Complaints are forwarded to the Chief for review.  The Chief will then assign the Complaint to the appropriate Supervisor for follow-up.   The investigation will usually include a review of all applicable reports, policies and procedures, examination of any evidence or medical records and interviews with involved parties and witnesses. 

How long will it take?

A simple complaint might take only a day to complete, while a complex complaint might take several months to investigate and review.  You will be notified every 30 days on the progress of the investigation.

What will happen at the end of the investigation?

The Chief of Police reviews every Complaint.  If the Chief determines that an employee violated Department policy or procedures, appropriate corrective action will be taken.  The Chief’s review will also include looking for ways to improve policies, procedures and training. This review is to assure that the investigation was handled thoroughly and objectively. At the end of the investigation, you will receive written notification of the Chief’s findings.  State Law prohibits us from releasing specific details concerning personnel actions.   

Notification of Findings

You will receive written notification of the Chief’s findings in the following form.

For Personnel complaint findings:

Sustained- The allegation made in the complaint was proven.

Not Sustained- The investigation failed to prove or disprove the allegation.

Unfounded- The investigation shows that the alleged act did not occur.

Exonerated- The investigation shows that the alleged act did occur, but was justified, lawful and proper under the  circumstances.

No Finding- Insufficient information available to conduct investigation.

For Policy/Procedural findings:

In complaints against Department policy/ procedures, the Chief may find that the policy or procedure is either: appropriate as written OR is in need of revision Complaints sustained against policy/procedures will be sustained against the Department and not the officers involved.    

How to make a Citizen’s Commendation, Inquiry or Complaint  

An inquiry, complaint or commendation can be made in person at:

Santa Clara Police Department
601 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95050

Via email at

Or, by calling the Santa Clara Police Department Watch Commander at (408)615-4700.


Citizen Form - English

Citizen Form - Spanish

Citizen Form - Hindi

Citizen Form - Vietnamese 

Citizen Form - Korean

Citizen Form - Mandarin


About the Santa Clara Police Department

The Santa Clara Police Department is comprised of approximately 140 Sworn Police Officers, 25 Reserve Police Officers, and 65 Civilian Employees.  Each day the Department offers professional police service to a residential population of 118,830 and to businesses employing an additional 64,000.  On average, Santa Clara Police Personnel responded to 64,600 calls for service a year, with an average response time of 4 minutes.  The calls for service resulted in over 14,000 police reports filed and over 4,500 arrests being made. In addition to daily Patrol operations, the Santa Clara Police Department operates a Detective Division, Traffic Unit, Special Response Team, Hostage Negotiator Team, Specialized Crimes Action Team, Services Division, Communications Center, and a large staff of civilian professional support personnel.  It is through the efforts of all Santa Clara Police Department employees that the City of Santa Clara enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in the nation among cities of comparable size.  During the course of their duties, Santa Clara Police Personnel interact with the public on all levels and in a wide variety of situations.   

Last updated: 12/17/2014 2:18:50 PM