Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bitch, Gripe, Complain...

Liz's Complaints post prompted me to write this.

Once upon a time, it was illegal for a citizen to file a false complaint against a peace officer. It said right along the bottom of the complaint form that it was a violation of such and such code and could result in fine and/or imprisonment.

Some legislator or 9th circuit judge, in their infinite wisdom, decided that it was a violation of the first amendment to forbid a citizen to file a false complaint. WTF?

Have they never heard of the terms "Libel" and "Slander"? I can't make false statements about a citizen's character without fear of reprisal, First Amendment or otherwise.

But now a citizen can come into the police department and file a complaint, saying something along the lines of I was overly rude to them or I was racially biased toward them, just because they don't like the ticket I wrote them. The department then has to investigate that false complaint, which is an incredible waste of time.

The complaint process is supposed to be a way to make sure we, as the police, do our jobs correctly, fairly and without prejudice or unnecessary violence. When you bastardize the process like this it makes the whole thing useless.

Yes, a cop really said that...


Grover said...

Well depending on the size of your department, just think of the joys of having a investigation hanging over your head for two to three years. No chance at advancements, no shot at even a lateral move.

The first time it happened to me, thank god the sheriffs that showed to assist had a on board camera. When the felon running on a double murder warrant said we beat him with our spider web taker downer thingamajigs. Never mind the fact that we don't even carry them.....

Me said...

I got my first complaint from a woman who wasn't even in the car when I stopped and ticketed her daughter. But the complainant still called and said that I insulted and humiliated her daughter and the job took the complaint even though the complainant wasn't present during the traffic stop.

As if this wasn't bad enough, one of our internal affairs investigators just happened to roll by when I made the stop and he backed me up. You'd think with him as a witness, I'd be golden, right?

The useless slap claimed that he never got out of his car--contrary to my recollection of that day--and since he never got out of his car, he had no idea what transpired and couldn't state with any kind of certainty that I hadn't insulted the girl.

The saving grace finally came when another investigator was at the girl's house interviewing her and her mother (the complainant) and the mother was doing all the talking. Suddenly the girl's six year old son--who, unlike grandma actually had been present--interrupted and told the investigators that I had done no such thing. Then the daughter admitted that it never happened and when she did, grandma finally came clean and admitted that she made the whole thing up to try to help her daughter get out of the ticket.

The job brought no charges or any kind of sanction against them, even though as a probationary officer, I could have lost my job if that complaint had been sustained.

Some agencies stand up for their people. Mine is not one of them.

Liz said...

WOW! They needed to be charged. Letting people get away with lying to the police only makes them lie more.

Hogday said...

Hi Officer Smith. FWIW in the UK, complaints and the system you blogged had become pretty much a way of life. Lawyers use it as a smear tactic in front of the court, eg: "Officer, is it correct that you are currently under investigation by your Professional Standards Department as a direct result of this arrest?" Even if the suspect hadn't complained, by the time the duty lawyer finished dealing with the initial case, in would come a complaint a few days later, as if by magic. It has become an SOP. Often, the initial investigation is bounced back to a senior officer on the same division and it very much depends who gets it as to how it runs. 90% pure bullshit. As you infer, an utter waste of time and resources and I concur with Grover, a real PITA. 3 cheers for cctv.

fuzzys dad said...

This is Wrong in so many different ways. If you lie about a officer. You should be severly punished.

The Dispatcher and Her Officer said...

Fuzzy... I agree.. In our agency there are so many complaints (false and stupid mostly) that they even put the complaint form online for easier access!

Just stupid!!!