Sweeny Police | Complaint Procedures

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Complaint Procedures

How citizens can file formal complaints against Sweeny law enforcement officers and how those complaints are handled.

The Importance of Your Complaint

The Sweeny Police Department recognizes that its employees are responsible for their conduct where the public is concerned. The Department also acknowledges that, at certain times, conflicts between citizens and agency employees can arise. The proper relationship between police and citizens is necessary to gain confidence and trust, which is essential for effective law enforcement.

Police Officers must be free to exercise their best judgment and initiate action in a reasonable, lawful, impartial manner, without fear or reprisal. At the same time, they must observe the constitutional rights of all people. Law enforcement officers, while responsible for enforcing the law, must not violate the law.

The complaint process and appropriate disciplinary procedures not only subject agency members to corrective action when they conduct themselves improperly, the guidelines also protect them from unwarranted criticism when they discharge their duties properly.

A disagreement over the validity of a traffic citation is not a complaint. The determination of guilt and innocence is a judicial process. Such disagreements should be directed to the Sweeny Municipal Court for final disposition.

The Department realizes that confusion, different perceptions or the timeliness of information sometimes will result in descriptions that produce different versions of the same incident. Beyond legitimate error, however, the deliberate making of a report that the complainant knows to be false or misleading could constitute a violation of State Law.


Complaint Procedures

The complaint process is designed to deal with each case factually and fairly. Citizens who file complaints are treated respectfully, and the accusations against an agency employee are taken seriously. All complaints are investigated thoroughly, and all findings are based on impartial evidence gained during the investigation.

However, many complaints can be explained satisfactorily by a visit or telephone call to the employee’s supervisor, usually a Sergeant. The supervisor will talk with you about your complaint and try to resolve it at this level. If this is unsuccessful, you may file your formal complaint in one of the ways described below.

There are two ways you can submit a complaint to the Sweeny Police Department.

  1. Make your written complaint in person at the Sweeny Police Department.

  2. Mail or e-mail a letter describing your complaint to the Sweeny Police Department.


Dispositions

Any complaint can be made anonymously, without giving your name. However, you cannot be informed of the internal review’s result if you choose to remain anonymous. After a thorough investigation, the complaint will be classified into one of the following dispositions.

  • Exonerated: Act was lawful and proper.

  • Unfounded: Incident did not occur, or affected employee was not involved.

  • Not Sustained: Insufficient evidence was found to clearly prove or disprove the allegation.

  • Proven: The allegation is supported by sufficient evidence. Violation of policy and procedure did occur, and the appropriate administrative action will be taken.

  • Misconduct Not Based on Complaint-Sustained: Substantial misconduct not alleged in the complaint, but is disclosed or discovered in the investigation.

  • Policy Failure: The allegation is true, and the action of the Department or the employee was consistent with Agency policy.

There are five types of disciplinary action that can be recommended for a sustained case.

  1. Written reprimand

  2. Training

  3. Counseling

  4. Suspension

  5. Termination

NOTE:  The Chief of Police makes the final determination about the disposition of the case.

Although the employee named in the complaint will, at some point, be required to respond to the specific allegation made, they are not permitted access to cases under investigation. Complainants need not be concerned that they will be subject to retribution or retaliation for legitimately stating a complaint, because procedures are in place to prevent this.

Complainants who have current criminal or traffic charges pending in an incident should be aware that the internal review process deals solely with matters of Departmental policy and the conduct of agency employees and officers. Regardless of the outcome of the internal investigation, existing criminal or traffic charges must be dealt with through the proper courts.

A complaint will not be accepted after thirty (30) days from the alleged incident, unless a waiver is granted by the Chief of Police.

Employees are not permitted access to cases under investigation.

You will be notified, in writing, of the disposition and/or disciplinary action taken by the Department not later than the tenth (10) business day after the disposition. All dispositions are final.

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