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Police Agency Handling of Citizen Complaints - a Model Policy Statement (From Police Management Today, P 88-98, 1985, James J Fyfe, ed. - See NCJ-97876)

NCJ Number
Date Published
11 pages
This model policy on police agency handling of citizen complaints, adopted by the Police Executive Research Forum in September 1981, covers an agency's mission, specific mechanisms to prevent misconduct, a code of conduct, penalities, and the disciplinary process.
The policy first states that meaningful and effective complaint procedures improve the quality of police services by engendering citizen support, permitting police officials to monitor compliance with departmental procedures, and clarifying rights and ensuring due process protection to citizens and officers alike. Prevention of misconduct is recognized as the primary means of reducing and controlling it. The policy describes the following mechanisms to accomplish this goal: recruiting and selecting the highest quality individuals, training in police ethics and procedures, developing written directives manual, training of supervisors, creating community outreach, and collecting and analyzing misconduct complaints on a monthly basis. The policy describes key features of a system to establish official misconduct and impose disciplinary action. It stresses that the system must be accessible to all persons who wish to file a complaint. It must maintain regular office hours, limit the disposition process to 120 days, and function in a consistent and prudent manner. A code of conduct defines specific categories of misconduct subject to disciplinary action, including crime, excessive force, arrest, entry, search, harassment, demeanor, and rule infractions. A scale of progressive penalties is provided. The final section details the disciplinary process, addressing the receipt and processing of complaints, investigation, and adjudication. Areas considered include rules of evidence, representation by counsel, statements and interviews, contacts with the media, due process rights, confidentiality, with the media, due process rights, confidentiality, and appeal. Guidelines on imposing disciplinary action conclude the policy.