Citizen Complaint

Citizen Complaint Reporting Procedure

A relationship of trust and confidence between members of the Police Department and the community they serve is essential to effective law enforcement. Law enforcement officers must be free to exercise their best judgment and to initiate law enforcement action in a reasonable, lawful, and impartial manner. In this regard, enforcers of the law have a special obligation to respect the rights of all persons when conducting such enforcement actions.

The Arroyo Grande Police Department acknowledges its responsibilities to establish a system of complaint and disciplinary procedure, which not only subjects the officers to corrective action when they conduct themselves improperly, but also will protect them from unwarranted criticism when they discharge their duties properly. It is the purpose of these procedures to provide a prompt, just, open, and expeditious resolution of complaints regarding the conduct of officers and employees of the department.

The Arroyo Grande Police Department, in compliance with Section 832.5 of the California Penal Code, welcomes from citizens of the community constructive criticism of the department and valid complaints against its members or procedures.

♦ Who May File?

Anyone who is directly involved or witnesses an incident from which a complaint arises. In the case of juveniles, it is  desirable but not necessary, that the parent(s) be present. However, it is the department's policy to notify the parent(s) of the juvenile whenever a complaint is accepted.

♦ Who To Contact?

Complaints should be made to the on-duty Watch Commander.

♦ How Can A Complaint Be Filed?

A complaint may be filed by personally contacting the police department and furnishing complete details of the incident, as well as the names of all witnesses or parties involved. The complainant will be requested to write out a statement in his/her own handwriting and sign the statement. While personal contact is desirable, initial complaints may be made by telephone or letter. However, it will be necessary that the complainant be available to the investigator for a personal interview.

♦ Who Will Investigate The Complaint?

The officer's immediate supervisor or on-duty Watch Commander. The Chief of Police may assign the complaint investigation to some other appropriate person.

♦ How Thorough Will The Investigation Be?

Our objective is to complete a thorough and impartial investigation disclosing the truth. Every effort will be expended to satisfactorily conclude the investigation. This includes referring the complaint to an outside investigative agency, such as the District Attorney's Office, where necessary.

♦ Who Makes The Final Decision?

The Chief of Police, after reviewing all of the facts, makes the final decision on the validity of the complaint, and if founded, the discipline to be administered. The Chief will rely on the investigative results.

♦ What Can Happen To The Officer If I Am Right?

It depends on what the officer did and how it is measured against what is expected of him/her. The entire purpose of discipline is to prevent the particular officer and fellow officers from acting improperly. If the officer acted improperly, it could result in his/her undergoing special training, being given a verbal or written reprimand, being suspended, demoted, discharged, or even criminally prosecuted.

♦ Will All Parties Be Notified?

Both the person making the complaint and the officer will be notified, in writing by the Chief of Police, of the results of the investigation.

♦ What If I Am Not Satisfied With The Investigation?

We certainly hope this will not occur. If it does, you have a number of alternatives open to you. You could bring this to the attention of the City Manager, your elected officials, the District Attorney's Office, the California Attorney General's Office, or a private attorney.

Access the online complaint form.