ComplaintsGuide to the Citizen Complaint Process Our Policy
It is the policy of the Santa Clara Police Department to thoroughly investigate all complaints against its employees. To insure the integrity of the Police Department, procedures have been established which will assure the prompt and thorough investigation of all alleged or suspected personnel misconduct. Such procedures are intended to clear the innocent, establish guilt of wrongdoers, facilitate prompt and just disciplinary action, and uncover improper procedures. Who May Make a Complaint?
Any person who has experienced, witnessed, or has knowledge of police employee misconduct, may make a complaint. Complaints can be made by community members, co-workers and other city employees. The Santa Clara Police Department will investigate complaints made for alleged violations of Department Policy; of local, state and federal laws; and for other conduct that is deemed inappropriate. How Do You File a Complaint?
A complaint may be made in person, by telephone, in writing, or by e-mail. Although the investigation is enhanced when the complainant is known, a complaint may be made anonymously and will still be investigated.
Complaints are usually received by the Watch Commander on duty, the supervisor of the involved employee, or by the Professional Standards Unit. A person who wants to make a complaint may contact any police employee for assistance in making contact with an officer who will receive their complaint.
It is important that the complainant provide as much information as possible about the event in question to aid in a thorough, accurate and timely investigation. At a minimum, the complainant will need to provide the approximate date and time of the incident, the location of the incident, and the name of the officer or officers involved (if known). The name or names of other involved persons or potential witnesses, and the report numbers of any associated police reports would also be helpful.
The complainant needs to provide a summary of the events in question and needs to specify the reason for the complaint. With the exception of anonymous complaints, follow-up contact may be made with the complainant to clarify points during the investigation. Each complainant will be advised of the consequences for knowingly filing a false allegation of misconduct. Guide to the Citizen Complaint Process
Who Investigates the Complaint?
In most cases, the Watch Commander of the employee will conduct an inquiry into the alleged misconduct. In more serious allegations, the Professional Standards Unit will conduct the investigation. The Investigations Division may investigate alleged criminal conduct, with the assistance of the District Attorney’s Office. A criminal investigation may commence at any point in the internal investigation process. What is the Complaint Process?
In some instances, the person with concerns about Police Department policy or officer conduct may want the matter handled informally. In these cases a department supervisor will discuss the issue with the complainant and/or the involved officers and provide prompt feedback to the complainant. The determination of how the issue will be handled will be discussed with the complainant at the time of the call. Formal
The person assigned the investigation will interview witnesses and other parties who can provide relevant information about the investigation; will review any applicable evidence; and will interview the involved police employee(s). The investigator will then complete the investigation, to include a recommended finding on the allegation of misconduct. The finding will be one of the following:
Sustained: The allegation is supported by sufficient evidence and shows that the employee did engage in the alleged misconduct.
Not Sustained: There is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation.
Exonerated: The evidence supports the allegation, but the actions of the employee were lawful and proper.
Unfounded: The investigation shows that the alleged act did not occur.
The completed investigation with findings is forwarded to the Chief of Police for his review. If the investigation into the alleged misconduct is Sustained, recommendations for discipline are requested from supervisors in the involved employee’s chain-of-command. If the investigation reveals that the employee may have committed a criminal act, the investigation will be sent to the District Attorney’s office for review.
If the finding is Not Sustained, Exonerated or Unfounded, and if the Chief of Police agrees with the finding, the investigation will be reviewed with the named employee and it will be retained in departmental files as prescribed by law. Guide to the Citizen Complaint Process What is the Disciplinary Process?
If the complaint is Sustained, one or more of the following actions will be taken:
Counseling/Training: Counseling and/or corrective training is provided to the employee to insure the improper behavior does not occur again.
Written Reprimand: A formal written disciplinary report documenting the misconduct will be placed into the employee’s personnel file.
Suspension: The employee is suspended from duty without pay.
Demotion or Pay Reduction: The employee is reduced in rank or loses a percentage of pay.
Dismissal: The employee is terminated from the City work force. What will you be told?
Once the investigation has been completed and approved by the Chief’s office, a letter will be mailed to the complainant, explaining the outcome of the investigation. A copy of the complainant’s statement will be included with the letter. The investigator’s name will be provided in case the complainant needs further clarification. The City must comply with state and federal personnel laws pertaining to employee’s privacy rights. Our Commitment to You
Complaints about alleged employee misconduct are opportunities for our department to educate others about why the conduct was appropriate and lawful or to identify actions by our employees that are inappropriate. In either case the community and the Santa Clara Police Department benefit from gaining your input. We are committed to providing quality police service to the public. Working with you, we will perform this service professionally and with integrity.
Prepared by the Santa Clara Police Department Professional Standards Unit.
Santa Clara Police Department
Professional Standards Unit
601 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95050
24-hour number: (408) 615-4700