UNCG Police Department

Complaints

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.
Complaint Inquiries

It is also the policy of the department to address inquiries concerning departmental directives, procedures, policies and performance 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 or if the issue involves personal misconduct or gross job inefficiency, the matter will be handled as a complaint and investigated accordingly.

All inquires will be documented the same as a complaint and reflect any attempts to resolve the issue(s). The inquiry documentation will also reflect the complainant's satisfaction with the supervisor's attempt. All inquiries will be entered into the department's Internal Affairs Record Management System for tracking purposes.

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 taken in person, over the telephone, online, 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 will accept the complaint and document all necessary information using the department's complaint form including a brief summary of the facts/allegations as stated by the complainant, attaching exhibits as needed. 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 online or written form themselves.

Upon completion, the supervisor will forward the complaint form to the Assistant Chief of Police or the Professional Standards Lieutenant. 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 immediately notify the Chief and Assistant Chief of Police.

Any attempts to resolve a complaint will be noted in the documentation. 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 provide a detailed statement regarding the incident to any member of the command staff.

Processing of Complaints

All complaints will be reviewed by the Assistant Chief of Police. The Assistant Chief of Police will also assign complaints to the appropriate division commander or the Professional Standards Lieutenant for investigation and recommendations.

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 or division commander. All complaints and/or accusations of personal misconduct, gross job inefficiency, excessive force or corruption will be investigated by the Professional Standards Unit.

Internal Affairs Function

The responsibility of internal affairs within the UNCG Police Department is given to the Professional Standards Lieutenant. This position report directly to the Chief of Police in all matters regarding the Internal Affairs Function. Responsibilities include:

  • Assignment of personnel to investigate allegations of misconduct and violations of the law, ensuring the confidentiality and adequate investigation of all complaints and appropriate action is taken as a result of the investigation.
  • Maintenance of the Internal Affairs Record Management System which includes all complaints, uses of force, job performance issues, policy violations, accidental discharges, vehicle pursuits, written warnings, counseling statements, and motor vehicle accidents involving officers.
  • The Internal Affairs Record Management System files are maintained in the Professional Standards Office and access is restricted to the Chief, Assistant Chief, Professional Standard Lieutenant, and division commanders.

Annually at the end of each fiscal year, the Professional Standards Lieutenant will compile a summary of all entries into the Internal Affairs Record Management System from the previous year. The summary will include the total number of incidents and corresponding dispositions of each.

All case files contained in the Internal Affairs Record Management System shall be retained for a period of time as defined by state law.

Assignment of Complaints for Investigation

After receipt of a complaint or allegation against an employee, the Assistant Chief of Police will assign the investigation according to the following:

  • Allegations of corruption, brutality, misuse of force, violations of civil rights, or similar allegations will be forwarded to the Professional Standards Unit for investigation.
  • Less serious complaints requiring routine disciplinary 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 Assistant Chief may choose to redirect any investigation to the appropriate division commander or the Professional Standards Unit.
  • Complaints involving more serious violations of departmental or university policies, but not designated as an internal affairs complaint, may be referred to the appropriate supervisor or 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.
Investigation of Complaints

The purpose of investigating complaints is to determine whether the allegation constitutes inadequate work performance, misconduct, gross job inefficiency and/or a violation of the law. All investigations will be completed within thirty days from the date of the complaint. However, the Assistant 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 the investigating officer from pursuing any reasonable course of action. Every investigation should contain the following steps, 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. They 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).
  • Notify the accused that he is the subject of an investigation. They 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."
  • 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 rights and obligations prior to any interview.
  • 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 investigating officer in getting to the truth.
  • Attempt to locate and review any documentation relevant to the incident. This may include, but is not limited to audio and/or video recordings, or documents from outside the department.
  • Record the information in a clear and concise investigative narrative summary, which contains all of the facts and findings relevant to the investigation, including the sources of those facts.
  • Not make a recommendation as to the final disposition but summarize the facts and forward this report to the Chief and Assistant Chief of Police once the investigation is complete. The Chief will determine the final disposition for all complaints.
  • If the circumstances warrant, consult with the District Attorney's Office in all instances when criminal activity is discovered during the administrative investigation.

If notifying the accused prior to interviewing him would jeopardize a thorough and impartial investigation, the investigating officer 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.

Employee's Duties During Investigation

Prior to any interview concerning alleged inappropriate work performance, misconduct or violations of the law the employee will:

  • Fully and truthfully answer all questions specifically, narrowly, and directly related to the performance of his duties;
  • 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; and
  • 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.
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.

Interviews may be recorded. All recordings will become part of the investigative record and remain with the case file. 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 investigating officer to ascertain the status of the investigation filed against them. Employees subject to criminal and administrative investigations are prohibited from contacting the complainant(s) during the course of the investigation or discussing the complaint with other members of the department.

Inspection and Examination During Investigation

The Assistant Chief of Police 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, computers, files, and storage lockers.

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 departmental policy.

Complaint Disposition

Upon conclusion of the investigation, the investigating officer will present all facts and information to the 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 occurred but the officer's actions were lawful and proper.
  • Sustained – The allegation is supported by sufficient evidence to indicate that it is true.
  • Misconduct Noted – Acts of employee misconduct or policy violations 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 departmental policy.

Once the complaint is resolved, the Chief of Police will ensure that department's Notification of Findings Letter is mailed to the complainant and the employee, return receipt requested. A copy of the letter will be included with the complaint investigation.

If the complaint was initiated due to inappropriate or misleading departmental policy, procedure, rule or regulation, a recommendation will be forward to the Chief and Assistant Chief of Police. The Chief will then determine if the policy, procedure, rule or regulation, requires modification or if there is a need to expand the department's training on a particular topic or issue.