UNCG Police Department

Complaints

3.7.1 Complaint Investigation

It is the policy of the UNCG Police Department to investigate all complaints, including anonymous complaints, and all allegations of employee misconduct, whether received from citizens or employees of the Department. In addition, the Department may conduct investigations into certain incidents even when a citizen or employee complaint is not received.There are four primary purposes for the Department’s policy of investigating complaints against its employees:
  • First, the policy permits citizens to seek redress of their legitimate grievances against employees of the Department when they feel that they have been treated improperly.
  • Second, the policy provides the Chief of Police with an opportunity to monitor employee compliance with departmental directives, policies, and procedures. When violations are identified, appropriate discipline, training, and direction may be used to correct the problem.
  • Third, the policy of investigating all citizen complaints helps perpetuate a positive image and helps to ensure the integrity of the Department.
  • Fourth, the policy helps protect the rights and interests of private citizens and employees of the Department

3.7.2 Inquiries

It is also the policy of the Department to address inquiries concerning departmental directives, procedures, policies and actions taken by members of the Department. Inquiries will be handled in an informal manner that should result in satisfaction to the complainant.Supervisors may attempt to resolve potential complaints as inquiries by offering an explanation of the Department’s policy and/or procedures. However, if the complainant is not satisfied, the matter will be handled as a complaint.

3.7.3 Receipt of Complaints

The purpose of this section is to provide employees with a clear and orderly method of receiving complaints against members of the Department. All complaints against the Department or any of its members will be documented, investigated, and promptly adjudicated. Complaints may be given in person, over the telephone, or in writing. Anonymous complaints or complaints from citizens who wish their names to be held in confidence will be accepted and investigated to the greatest extent possible. Any supervisor of the Department who is approached for such assistance may accept complaints. If any employee of the Department becomes aware of a complaint, or some other issue that warrants investigation, it is the duty of that employee to report it to a supervisor. The complainant should be referred to the accused employee’s supervisor, if on duty, or the supervisor on duty at the time. If the complainant prefers, they may complete the Department’s Complaint Form themselves and return it at a later time.

Supervisors taking a complaint will complete the Department’s Complaint form (#3-1) and promptly forward the report to the appropriate division commander. If the complaint alleges use of excessive force, use of deadly force, or any incident likely to have an adverse impact upon the Department, the supervisor will notify the Chief of Police immediately.

Supervisors taking complaints will fill out all sections of the Department’s Complaint Form, including a brief summary of the facts/ allegations as stated by the complainant, attaching additional sheets of paper as needed. Any attempts to resolve a complaint will be noted in the report. Copies of the “Complaint Report” will also be made available to the Complainant and forwarded to the Field Operations and Support Services Division Commanders.

Any member of the Department may file a complaint against another member of the department when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused has violated a departmental directive or criminal statute. The employee filing the complaint will fill out the Department’s Complaint form (#3-1) and notify any member of the Command Staff. The complaint will then be forwarded to the Chief of Police and the appropriate Division Commander.

3.7.4 Processing of Complaints

All complaints will promptly be forwarded to the Chief of Police for review and possible assignment. The Chief will then forward a copy of the complaint to the appropriate Division Commander for review, investigation and appropriate response.

All complaints and/or accusations of inadequate work performance (such as rudeness, tardiness, or other policy violations) will be forwarded to the employee’s immediate supervisor and Division Commander.

3.7.5 Internal Affairs Function / Early Warning System

The responsibility for the internal affairs function within the UNCG Police Department is given to the Chief of Police and Division Commanders. Those responsibilities include:
  1. Assignment of personnel to investigate allegations of misconduct and violations of the law,
  2. Ensuring the confidentiality and adequate investigation of all complaints and appropriate action is taken as a result of the investigation;

Maintenance of an “Early Warning System” that will contain all complaints, uses of force, job performance problems, accidental discharges, vehicle pursuits, written warnings, counseling statements, and any motor vehicle accidents involving an officer. Supervisors holding the rank of Sergeant and above will be responsible for entering and maintaining the Early Warning System. The supervisor who initiates any of the above indicators will be responsible for entering the information into the Early Warning System. The files will be maintained in the Field Operation Captains’ office and access will be restricted to personnel holding the rank of Captain and above.

At the end of each fiscal year, the Division Commanders will compile a summary of all complaints filed for the previous year. The summary will include the total number of complaints and a breakdown of the dispositions of those complaints.

3.7.6 Assignment of Complaints for Investigation

After receipt of a complaint or allegation against an employee, the Chief of Police or his designee will assign the investigation according to the following:
  • Allegations of criminal violations, corruption, brutality, misuse of force, violations of civil rights, or similar serious allegations will be forwarded to the Support Services Division Commander for investigation as an internal affairs complaint.
  • Less serious complaints requiring routine discipline action for inadequate work performance (i.e. rudeness, tardiness, etc…) or other violations of departmental or university policy will be forwarded to the employee’s immediate supervisor for further investigation. The Chief may choose to redirect any investigation to the appropriate Division Commander.
  • Complaints involving more serious violations of departmental or university policies, but not designated as an internal affairs complaint, may be referred to the appropriate Division Commander.
  • The Chief of Police may solicit assistance from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation or other appropriate investigative law enforcement agency in any internal criminal or administrative investigation.

3.7.7 Investigation of Complaints

The purpose of investigating complaints is to determine whether the allegation constitutes inadequate work performance, misconduct and/or a violation of the law. All investigations will be completed within thirty days from the date of the complaint. However, the Chief of Police may extend that time period if necessary.

An investigation into a complaint will follow the guidelines set out in this section. However, nothing in this section is designed to limit an investigator from pursuing any reasonable course of action. Every investigation should contain the following steps:

  1. The investigating officer will contact the complainant, within three workings days after being assigned, to learn the exact nature of the complaint and the facts that led up to the complaint. The investigating officer will provide the complainant with written acknowledgement of the complaint, which will also describe the investigative process, using the Department’s Acknowledgement of Complaint form (#3-2).
  2. The investigator must notify the accused that he is the subject of an investigation. The investigating officer will notify the employee(s) being investigated by completing the Department’s Employee Complaint Notification form (#3-3). At a minimum, the notification form will include the following:
    • A brief summary of the incident;
    • The specific charges or allegations; and
    • The employee’s Garrity Rights (unless criminal) and responsibilities, which must include the following statements: “The employee will be required to truthfully and fully answer all questions specifically, narrowly and directly as related to the performance of his duties; Refusal to comply with an order to answer questions or failure to answer questions truthfully and fully will be considered gross personal misconduct and may subject the employee to dismissal; Any statements made or evidence collected during an internal administrative interview will not be used against an employee in any subsequent criminal proceedings.”
  3. The Investigator will provide the employee with a copy of the Department’s Employee’s Rights and Obligations form (#3-4). The employee will be required to sign the form in acknowledgement of those right and obligations prior to any interview.
  4. The investigator will interview all persons who could have information pertaining to the incident. This includes, but is not limited to, eyewitnesses, other department members, or persons who can provide information that will assist the investigator in getting to the truth;
  5. The investigator should attempt to locate and review any documentation relevant to the incident. This may include, but is not limited to: documents and tape or video recordings or documents from outside the Department;
  6. The investigator must then record the information in a clear and concise investigative narrative summary (#3-5), which contains all of the facts and findings relevant to the investigation, including the sources of those facts.
  7. Once the investigation is complete, the investigator will not make any recommendation as to the final disposition but summarize the facts and forward this report to the Support Services Division Commander. The Division Commanders and the Chief will collectively determine the final disposition for all complaints.

If notifying the accused prior to interviewing him would jeopardize a thorough and impartial investigation, the investigator may make the notification at the time of the interview. Once the employee has been advised of the Garrity Rights, no further notification is necessary during that investigation.

3.7.8 Employee’s Duties During Investigation

Prior to any interview concerning alleged inappropriate work performance, misconduct or violations of the law the employee will:
  1. Fully and truthfully answer all questions specifically, narrowly, and directly related to the performance of his duties;
  2. Acknowledge that refusal to comply with an order to answer such questions, or failure to answer questions fully and truthfully, is a violation of departmental policy and will be considered gross personal misconduct and may subject the employee to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal;
  3. Acknowledge that any required self-incriminatory admission made during the administrative interview may only be used against the employee in subsequent administrative proceedings and shall not be used against the employee in subsequent criminal proceedings.

3.7.9 Employee’s Rights During Investigation

Prior to any interview or special examination, the employee under investigation will receive confidential written notification of the complaint. This notification will include a summary of the complaint adequately listing the relevant facts, and the employee’s rights and responsibilities during the investigation. The employee will sign this notification.

Prior to an internal interview concerning alleged criminal misconduct, the employee under investigation must be read his Miranda rights. The provisions of Miranda will be adhered to throughout the interview.

Prior to an Administrative interview, all employees will be required to acknowledge and sign the Department’s Employee’s Rights and Obligations form (#3-4).

All interviews will be conducted while the employee is on duty unless the seriousness of the investigation required investigatory placement or immediate attention is required. The entire interview will be recorded if conducted by the assigned investigator.

All recordings will become part of the investigative process and will be forwarded to the Chief of Police. Employees under investigation will not be subjected to offensive language or threatened with dismissal or other disciplinary action during the interview.

Employees are permitted to have an attorney present during any criminal or administrative interview. The attorney’s role during an administrative interview will be limited to observation.

Accused employees may contact the assigned investigator to ascertain the status of the investigation filed against them. Employees subject to internal criminal and administrative investigations are prohibited from contacting the complainant during the course of the investigation or discussing the complaint with other members of the Department.

3.7.11 Inspection and Examination During Investigation

The Support Services Division Commander may authorize the use of surveillance, photography or filming of employees during an administrative investigation. Upon approval from the Chief of Police, certain investigative methods may be used during an administrative investigation. Employees may be required to submit to the following for administrative purpose only:
  • Breathalyzer, medical laboratory, or other diagnostic tests, physical or psychological evaluations, or other diagnostic tests;
  • Polygraph examinations;
  • Employee lineup;
  • Production of financial disclosure statements; and/or
  • Other non-testimonial identification procedures as deemed necessary and appropriate, including, but not limited to, fingerprints, photographs, hair samples, DNA, etc…

The special examination must be specifically and narrowly related to a particular investigation and conducted only upon specific approval of the Chief of Police. Refusal to submit to ordered tests is a violation of departmental policy and will be considered gross personal misconduct and may subject the employee to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.Any on duty supervisor may require an employee to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test when inebriation or drug usage is suspected as a factor related to duty performance or operation of a departmental vehicle.Property belonging to the UNCG Police Department is subject to inspection where there is reasonable suspicion that evidence of work related misconduct will be found therein. Property includes, but is not limited to, vehicles, desks, files, and storage lockers.

3.7.12 Investigatory Placement

Officers may be put on Investigatory Placement with pay during the course of an investigation in order to provide time to investigate, establish facts, and reach a decision concerning an employee’s status in those cases where it is determined that the employee should not continue to work pending a decision. Any ranking employee may place a subordinate employee on investigatory leave for no more than three days. The Chief of Police must approve any investigatory placements longer than three days. All investigatory placements must comply with the guidelines set forth in General Order 3.5.8.

3.7.13 Complaint Disposition

Upon conclusion of the investigation, the assigned investigator will present all facts and information to Chief of Police. The Chief will then classify the disposition of the complaint investigation in one of the following manners:
  • Unfounded - The allegation is false or there is insufficient evidence to support the allegation.
  • Not Sustained - There is insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove the allegation.
  • Exonerated - The incident complained of occurred but was lawful and proper.
  • Sustained - The allegation is supported by sufficient evidence to indicate that the allegation is true.
  • Misconduct Noted - Acts of employee misconduct were discovered during the investigation that were not alleged in the original complaint.

Sustained and Misconduct Noted findings may be appropriately handled as performance or personal conduct matters in accordance with General Order 3.5, Disciplinary Procedures.

Once the complaint is resolved, the Chief of Police will ensure that Department’s Notification of the Findings form (#3-6) is mailed to the complainant and the employee, return receipt requested. A copy of the letter will be attached to the complaint investigation.

If the complaint was initiated due to inappropriate or misleading departmental policy, procedure, rule or regulation, the Detective will forward his comments to the Chief of Police. The Chief will then determine the need to modify the policy, procedure, rule or regulation, or determine if there is a need expand the Department’s training on a particular topic or issue.

FORMS

  • 3-1 Department’s Complaint
  • 3-2 Department’s Acknowledgement of Complaint
  • 3-3 Department’s Employee Complaint Notification
  • 3-4 Department’s Employee’s Rights and Obligations
  • 3-5 Investigative Narrative Summary
  • 3-6 Department’s Notification of Findings