Filing a Complaint of Misconduct
Since being appointed as the Chief of the Yakima Police Department, I have made it clear that the reduction of violent crime is our highest priority, but that to achieve that we must exhibit exceptional customer service in all that we do. That level of service is an expectation and is paramount to our success. Members of the department take this commitment seriously, and strive to achieve it. When we are informed that we may not have been successful in that regard, our goal is to thoroughly and objectively investigate what occurred.
The attached information and forms regarding the filing of the complaint are provided to answer any questions you may have, illustrate the investigative procedure, and keep the process as streamlined as possible. While you are welcome to take this information and complete the form on your own, we would encourage you to speak to a supervisor at the police department. The situation that prompted you to seek this information may very well be explained to your satisfaction.
While we encourage you to leave your name and contact information, we do accept and investigate anonymous complaints just as we would any others. Please be aware, however, that this will preclude us from notifying you at the conclusion of the investigation.
Your complaint will be reviewed and assigned for investigation. You can expect that the investigator will contact you, although it may not be for several days after your complaint is received.
Trust of the citizens of Yakima is paramount to our success, and it is our sincere hope that the information provided to you in this packet has been of assistance. Thank you.
Chief of Police
When You File a Complaint of Police Misconduct
The purpose of the internal investigations of the Yakima Police Department is to investigate and adjudicate in a fair, thorough, objective, competent, and timely manner each complaint alleging misconduct of an employee.
Any person you files a complaint can and should expect the following process:
I. Taking of the Initial Complaint
A supervisor of the division that is the source of the complaint will collect as much detailed information from you as possible. This would include but is not necessarily limited to: date, time, place, circumstances, and witnesses. This information will be recorded on the official personnel complaint form. In addition, because we take these complaints so seriously, we will routinely ask at that point that all complainants provide a signed statement.
II. Screening and Investigative Assignment
Once the initial complaint is received, a decision will made as to whom or what unit will investigate the complaint.
- If the complaint is primarily criminal in nature, usually a detective will be assigned to investigate it with the cooperation of the Prosecutor’s Office.
- If the complaint involves serious breaches of policies/procedures or rules/regulations–for example, excessive use of force or unlawful search–the investigator from the Professional Standards Office will be assigned to the investigation.
- If the complaint involves breaches of other policies/procedures or rules/regulations–for example, rudeness or failure to take appropriate action–the complaint will usually be investigated by the employee’s supervisor.
III. Investigation of Complaints
Regardless of who investigated the complaint, there will be a detailed and thorough examination of the facts. This will include all available evidence related to the complaint; for example, employees’ statements, witnesses’ statements, public records, and physical evidence. It is the investigator’s absolute responsibility to pursue every proper means to develop sufficient information to support an appropriate and fair finding and disposition of the matter.
IV. Review and Adjudication
Once the fact-finding investigation is completed, the case is forwarded to the Division Commander for review for completeness.
The case is usually sent through one of two review and recommendation processes. If the case was investigated by the employee’s shift or unit, then the recommendation of finding and discipline will come through the employee’s line of supervisors.
If the case was investigated by the investigator from the Professional Standards Office, the Division Commander will review it and make a recommendation of finding and discipline (if appropriate) to the Chief.
If the case is investigated as a crime, it would be the prosecutor who reviews the case and makes a decision to file charges.
After deliberation, the Chief of Police, or designee, will issue a written finding of fact and proposed disposition. You will receive notification by mail.
Because of the time often required to thoroughly investigate and adjudicate these matters, it is not unusual for the process to take seventy-five (75) working days. You may call the investigator to check on the status of your complaint.
If you have any questions concerning your complaint or the process, please feel free to contact the Office of the Chief of Police between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 575-6178.