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City of Rochester

Rochester Police Department Citizen Complaint Process

UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS

You've filed a complaint because you think a police officer or officers acted wrongly or that your rights were violated. What happens next?

THE INTERVIEW

A police command officer (rank of sergeant or higher) will interview you about your complaint.  He or she will ask you questions about what happened. It is possible that the command officer may be able to explain the officer(s)' actions to your satisfaction.

  • Usually, you will be interviewed at the Police Department's Professional Standards Section at 492 Lyell Ave. You may be videotaped during the interview.
  • If you wish, you may bring a lawyer, family member or friend to your interview.
  • The command officer will ask you for the names of witnesses and other police officers that may know facts about your complaint.
  • A police photographer may take pictures of any injuries that you think are related to your complaint.

THE INVESTIGATION

After the interview, the Police Department will investigate your complaint. Investigators will talk to witnesses and visit the site of the incident.

  • The investigators will be command officers assigned to the Professional Standards Section.
  • All officers will be interviewed and witnesses whom you've named will be contacted and interviewed, if they agree. You may also be asked for more information.
  • You will get a letter telling you about the progress of the investigation. Although it is impossible to estimate how long the investigation will take, you will receive periodic reports on its status. If you have any questions, you may call the Professional Standards Section at (585) 428-7131.
  • A report will then be prepared.

THE REVIEW

  • The Police Chief reviews every complaint after the investigation is completed and a report is written.
  • If your complaint includes excessive force or charges an officer with a crime, it will also be reviewed by a Civilian Review Board (CRB). The Board includes three citizens who are not members of the Police Department.
  • The CRB will review your complaint, statements from all witnesses and reports from the investigation. The CRB may ask for additional information before making its recommendations to the Police Chief. The CRB may also choose to interview witnesses.
  • The results of investigations where there are no charges that the police officer used excessive force or committed a crime are also reviewed by the Police Chief.
  • The Police Chief reviews investigations and makes the final decision on all complaints.

THE FINDINGS

The results of your complaint are called "findings". There are four possible findings:

  • Sustained - Your complaint has been supported: The officer(s) involved acted improperly and may be disciplined.
  • Unfounded - The investigation found no basis to your complaint.
  • Exonerated - The police officer(s) involved acted properly and will not be disciplined
  • Unprovable - There was not enough evidence to prove your complaint true or false so no further action will be taken.

The Police Chief will decide on a finding for your complaint and will inform you by letter of the result. If you want more information or explanation, call (585) 428-7131.

IF YOUR COMPLAINT IS SUSTAINED

If the finding is "sustained", the Police Chief can take several actions. He can require extra training or counseling for the officer(s) or he can charge them with violating Police Department rules.

  • If they face charges, the officer(s) will be given a hearing where you may be asked to testify.
  • The hearing is usually at the Public Safety Building and you may bring a lawyer or any other person with you when you appear.
  • If the officer(s) are found "guilty" after the hearing, they may be reprimanded, fined, suspended, demoted or fired. The Police Chief will make the final decision.

YOUR RIGHTS AFTER THE FINDING

However your complaint is resolved, you will be notified by mail of the outcome. You will also be notified if the process takes longer than 60 days to determine a finding. You may ask about your complaint's status at any time by calling (585) 428-7131.

Be sure to notify the Professional Standards Section immediately at that number if you change your address during the investigation.

  • If not satisfied with the finding, you can speak to or make an appointment with the investigator(s) by calling (585) 428-7131.
  • If you wish to file a claim against the City for any damages you believe you may have suffered, you can obtain a form from the City Law Department by calling (585) 428-6896.
  • If you believe you have a basis for a criminal or civil law suit, you can speak to a lawyer. The Monroe County Bar Association can refer you to a lawyer if you call (585) 546-2130.

YOUR COMPLAINT IS IMPORTANT

The complaint process is designed to deal with each case factually and fairly. Citizens who file complaints are treated respectfully and charges against police officers are taken very seriously.  Comment about a police officer. 

All complaints are investigated thoroughly and all findings by the Police Chief are based upon the evidence developed during the investigation.

For more information about the City Police Department's Citizen Complaint Investigation & Review Process, or to find out about the status of your complaint, call (585) 428-7131 or email PSSMail@cityofrochester.gov.


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