CITIZEN COMPLAINT PROCEDURES
HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT AGAINST A CFISD POLICE OFFICER
The CFISD Police Department welcomes valid complaints about our services and personnel. It is essential to the safety of our school district and to our community that the relationship between our officers and the public that we serve is a relationship built on confidence and trust. Your constructive criticism, comments, and suggestions provide an open channel of communication between our police department and the public. The feedback we receive helps us better protect the CFISD community from misconduct as well as provides a basis for a thorough and impartial investigative procedure. Citizens who feel that they have a legitimate concern or complaint may make a formal complaint to the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District Police Department at any time. Information regarding the complaint process can be obtained from any member of this police department. Additional information about this process may be obtained from Board Policy CKE (Local) or by calling (281) 897-4337.
UNDERSTANDING THE COMPLAINT PROCESS
The complaint process is designed to deal with each case factually and fairly. In order for a complaint against a district peace officer to be considered by the Chief of Police, the complaint must be in writing on a form provided by the District. (CKE EXHIBIT). The complaint shall be signed by the person making the complaint and notarized. In accordance with the law, the District shall provide to the police officer a copy of the formal complaint. Once a citizen has filed a formal written complaint against a CFISD Peace Officer, he/she should expect the following process to begin without delay:
A police supervisor (rank of Sergeant or higher) will interview the individual filing the complaint. The officer will ask the alleged victim questions about the circumstances surrounding the complaint. In some cases it may be possible that the interviewing officer will be able to explain the actions in question to your satisfaction. In other cases the complaint will need to be provided in writing and notarized. It should also be understood that with some complaints the initial interview may be videotaped. The complainant should be prepared to provide a sworn statement and be willing to provide the names of witnesses and/or other police officers that may know facts about the complaint.
After the interview, the formal complaint will be forwarded to the Chief of Police for an initial review. If it is determined that the level of misconduct rises to the level of a serious infraction, criminal allegation, or an egregious policy violation the Chief of Police will designate and assign the complaint for a formal Internal Affairs Investigation. The Internal Affairs investigators are designated CFISD Command Staff administrators with the rank of Lieutenant or higher. In some cases the CFISD Criminal Investigations Division may be assigned to assist in the investigation. If the complaint includes allegations of unreasonable or excessive force or evidence suggest that an officer has committed a crime, in most cases the district attorney’s office will be immediately notified. During the investigation you should expect that all officers who have knowledge of the incident will be formally interviewed. Witnesses whom the alleged victim has named will be contacted and interviewed, if they agree. The alleged victim will receive a letter regarding the progress of the investigation. Although it is impossible to estimate how long an investigation will take, the alleged victim will receive periodic reports on the status of the investigation. Once the investigation is complete a written report and IAD complaint file will then be prepared and submitted through the proper chain of command.
DISPOSITIONS & FINDINGS
The results and facts of a complaint are called "findings". After a thorough and complete investigation a complaint will then be classified by a final “disposition”. The following dispositions will be assigned:
- Unfounded – The incident did not occur or the affected employee was not involved.
- Exonerated - The police officer(s) involved acted properly and will not be disciplined; the incident occurred but actions taken were lawful and proper.
- Sustained - The complaint has been supported: The evidence is sufficient to prove the allegation.
- Not Sustained - Insufficient evidence exists to prove the allegation.
THE REVIEW PROCESS
The Chief of Police reviews every complaint after the investigation is completed and a final Internal Affairs report is written.
The Chief of Police will consider the disposition after reviewing the complaint, and the alleged victim will be informed of the findings and disposition in writing.
While we do encourage the filing of legitimate complaints against employees, the department simultaneously seeks to hold members of the public responsible for the filing of false and malicious allegations against our employees. When a complaint is proven to be purposely false, the complainant will be prosecuted within the law.
QUESTIONS ABOUT COMPLAINT PROCEDURES?
If you have any questions about the complaint process, please contact the Chief of Police Monday-Friday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at 281-897-6495.