Citizen Complaint Procedure
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department believes that a relationship of confidence and trust with the public is essential to effective law enforcement. Deputies must be free to exercise their best judgement to initiate law enforcement action in a reasonable, lawful, impartial manner without fear of reprisal. So too, enforcers of the law have a special obligation to meticulously respect the rights of all persons.
It is essential that public confidence be maintained in the ability of the Sheriff's Department to investigate and properly adjudicate complaints against its members. Additionally, the Department has the responsibility to seek out and discipline those whose conduct discredits the Department or impairs its effective operation. The rights of the employee, as well as those of the public, must be preserved and any investigation or hearing arising from a complaint must be conducted in an open and fair manner with the truth as its primary objective. The Department accepts complaints against its members and fully investigates all such complaints to the appropriate disposition.
To this end, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department acknowledges its responsibility to establish a system of complaint and disciplinary procedures which not only will subject an employee to corrective action when that employee conducts themselves improperly, but also will protect an employee from unwarranted criticism when their duties are properly discharged.
Any citizen who feels they have been the victim of misconduct by a member of the Sheriff's Department may file a "Citizen Complaint." The complaint may be made at any time to any member of the Department; however, whenever possible the matter will be handled by a supervisor.
Complaints of misconduct will be accepted and recorded on a "Citizen Complaint" from available at all Sheriff's Stations. A copy will be given to you if filed at Sheriff's Station.
The person receiving your complaint will ask you to provide as much information as possible. The complaint will then be investigated in a timely, professional manner. The investigation consists of taking formal statements from all persons concerned and the gathering and preservation of any physical evidence or other information related to the incident.
Each allegation is examined on its own merits in an objective manner. The employee's Deputy Chief or a Disciplinary Review Board will examine the investigation and make recommnendations to the Sheriff. At the conclusion of the investigation and review, the Department will advise you by mail of the disposition of the complaint.
A completed investigation may result in the following determinations:
UNFOUNDED - The investigation clearly established that the allegations is not true.
EXONERATED - The investigation clearly established that the actions of the officer are not violations of law or department policy.
SUSTAINED - The investigation established that the actions of the officer constitute misconduct.
INCONCLUSIVE - The investigation established insufficient evidence to prove or disprove misconduct.
FRIVOLOUS - The investigation established that the complaint is totally and completely without merit or offered for the sole purpose of harassing the officer.
You have the right to make a complaint against a police officer for any improper police conduct. California law requires this agency to have a procedure to investigate citizen's complaints. You have a right to a written description of this procedure. This agency may find after investigation that there is not enough evidence to warrant action on your complaint; even if that is the case, you have the right to make the complaint and have it investigated if you believe an officer behaved improperly. Citizen complaints and any reports or findings relating to complaints must be retained by this agency for at least five (5) years.
Generally complaints will not be accepted from the following:
- Persons who are intoxicated.
- Uninvolved third parties, except a family member in the case of a juvenile.
Additionally, it is not the purpose of the citizen complaint process to be utilized fro the investigation or adjudication of criminal complaints made against citizens by law enforcement officers. The issue of guilt or innocence is better left to the courts.
Completed citizen's complaint forms can be dropped off at any San Bernardino County Sheriff's Station or mailed to the following address:
San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department
Internal Affairs Division
655 East Third Street
San Bernardino, California 92415-0061
For further information, please call (909) 387-3726 or Fax (909) 387-3795.