Understanding the Complaint Process
To demonstrate transparency of the complaint investigation process, we’ve provided brief descriptions of each step taken after a formal complaint has been submitted to the Independent Police Auditor. As always, if you have any questions about the investigative process after filing a complaint, please connect with our office.
All complaint intakes are done through the Independent Police Auditor. This includes complaints from the community, which can include third party or anonymous complaints. Where a complaint of minor misconduct is made to a supervisor on scene, the supervisor is allowed to resolve it immediately, so long as the complaint is forwarded to the Auditor within 24 hours. City employees, including sworn and non-sworn EPD employees can generate internal complaints. The Auditor also has the authority to initiate complaints when there is sufficient information upon which to base an investigation.
After a complaint intake has taken place, IPA staff conducts a preliminary investigation to gather basic information about the event, the officer(s) involved, which EPD policies may be implicated, etc. This preliminary investigation may include review of body-worn video, in-car video, any evidence submitted by the reporting party, and related police reports and records.
Once the preliminary investigation has been completed, the incident is classified. The Auditor has sole authority to classify, route, and re-classify complaints. The complaint classifications are listed below. For complaint classification definitions, please visit our FAQ section.
- Service Complaint
- Policy Complaint
- Incident Review
- Allegation of Misconduct
- Allegation of Criminal Conduct
- Community Impact Case
Prior to proceeding with a full auditor-involved investigation, the Auditor could:
- Dismiss a complaint; Reasons for dismissal can include: Timeliness, Outside Jurisdiction, Previously Reviewed, Employee Not Identifiable, Alternate Remedy, No Policy Violation Discovered, or Other
- Route a complaint to another City department, such as a respectful work environment complaint routed to the City’s Employee Resource Center;
- If a complaint is against the Police Chief, route the complaint to the City Manager in accordance with City Code; or,
- Determine the matter is appropriate for mediation/facilitated conversation and seek voluntary agreement from the parties.
If not received during the preliminary investigation, the Auditor will request and receive all relevant documentation, video, and records from EPD. The Independent Police Auditor and EPD share a database where incident information can be viewed and routed. The Auditor has unfettered access to Incident-specific records, including: Police Reports, Dispatch Records, Body-Worn Video, In-Car Video, Radio Traffic, 911 Calls, Data from Automatic Vehicle Locators, etc.
The Auditor actively monitors EPD’s Internal Affairs’ investigation of all Allegations of Misconduct and is authorized to participate in all complainant, employee, and witness interviews. The process is the same for Incident Reviews with the distinction that Incident Reviews do not include interviews with the involved employee. If such an interview is required, the Auditor will re-classify the complaint.
The Auditor’s role during the investigation process is to determine whether the City’s investigation is thorough and complete, and has authority to do all the following:
- Require the City to undertake additional investigation,
- Contract for an external investigation if the Auditor determines that an external investigation is appropriate.,
- Reclassify the complaint based on the information discovered as part of the investigation.
- For all Allegations of Misconduct:
- The Auditor reviews the investigation and formulates an opinion on whether the investigation establishes that the involved employee(s) violated policy. The Auditor and EPD chain of command prepare separate recommendations to the Chief on whether the complaint should be sustained. The Chief has final adjudication authority. The Auditor is responsible for notifying the complainant of the investigation and its outcome.
- For Incident Reviews and Inquiry or Service Complaints:
- EPD chain of command prepares a memo detailing the investigation findings, and steps taken to resolve the issue with complainants to the Auditor. The Auditor can require additional investigation, reclassify the matter, or close it.
The Auditor does not make discipline recommendations but may report on disciplinary trends. The EPD chain of command works with City Employee Resource Center to make disciplinary recommendations to the Chief, and the Chief has final disciplinary authority.