citizens who seek to file a complaint shall be promptly
directed to a supervisor or Internal Affairs in order to
record the complaint. Members/employees shall explain the
complaint and investigative process to citizens who inquire
about filing a complaint.
All complaints, regardless of nature of manner received,
with the exception of those associated with pending civil
litigation, will be entered on a Complaint Against Police
Officer Form... more
If a citizen wishes to remain anonymous, such indication
will be written on the form by the receiving member.
If a citizen telephones the Department, he/she will be
directed to come to the police station to file the complaint
or referred to Internal Affairs. If necessary or requested,
a Complaint Against Police Officer Form may be mailed to the
citizen or an Internal Affairs investigator shall make
arrangements to meet with the citizen if they are physically
unable to respond to the police station.
When a citizen is found to be physically unable or lacks the
minimum writing skills to complete the form, it shall be
prepared by the receiving member/employee.
Citizens unable to speak or write in English should be
encouraged to submit the complaint in their native language
or have an interpreter available.
Within 24 hours of the initial complaint, excluding weekends
or holidays; the complaint shall be forwarded (via the chain
of command) to the Chief of Police for review. After review,
the Chief of Police shall:
Forward the complaint to the Internal Affairs Officer for
Declare the complaint unfounded;
Initiate disciplinary procedure without further
Forward the complaint to the supervisor of the affected
member for further investigation
If Internal Affairs does not investigate the complaint, a
copy of the complaint will be forwarded immediately to the
Internal Affairs Unit for review and assignment of a control
Complaints of a serious nature, such as corruption or other
criminal conduct, shall require the Chief of Police, via the
chain of command, to be immediately immediately notified.
Within 45 calendar days after assignment, the assigned
investigator shall forward his/her findings to the Chief of
Police. Extensions of this period may be authorized by the
Chief of Police and must be requested by the assigned
Upon conclusion of the investigation, the Chief of Police
shall notify the member/employee and the member/employees’
Commander/Supervisor, in a written format of the results of
The Investigating Officer shall keep the complainant
informed concerning the status of a complaint, to include at
a minimum; verification of receipt that the complaint has
been received for processing;
periodic status reports;
Upon conclusion of the complaint, the Chief of Police shall
be responsible for notifying all complainants in an
established written format of the findings and conclusions.
The Department constantly seeks to improve the efficiency of
its operations and its members/employees. Sometimes
investigations disclose faulty procedures that otherwise
would have gone undetected. Thus, these procedures can be
improved or corrected.
Minors who wish to file a sworn complaint must be
accompanied by a parent or legal guardian and the sworn
complaint should be signed by the parent or legal guardian
and the minor.
Members and supervisors initiating a complaint against
another member shall adhere to the following procedures:
A typewritten memo will be prepared and directed to the
attention of the involved member’s Bureau Commander via the
chain of command.
The memo will state the member’s name, rank, and division
assignment; date, time and location of the alleged
violation; and full details concerning the allegation. It
shall be signed by the member or supervisor reporting the
alleged violation and include their rank and division
The original copy shall be forwarded to the involved
Commander. A copy shall be forwarded to the Internal Affairs
Unit for review
and assignment of a control number.
Upon receipt of the allegation, the Bureau Commander may:
(1) Summarily dispose of the matter, reporting the results
to the Chief of Police.
(2) Recommend that Internal Affairs assume the
Bias-based profiling is defined as the selection of
individuals based solely on a trait common to a group for
enforcement action. This includes, but is not limited to,
race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation,
religion, economic status, age, cultural group or any other
A legitimate objective of law enforcement agencies is
protecting the public by enforcing the law in a fair and
impartial manner, recognizing both the statutory and
judicial limitations of police authority, while protecting
the rights of all persons. To this end, enforcement action,
including, but not limited to vehicle stops, stop and frisk
of an individual, arrests, searches and seizures, the
application of force, other field contacts and the
initiation of asset seizure and forfeiture proceedings must
be based solely on law, Department policy, and articulated
facts. The Winter Haven Department does not condone the use
of any bias based profiling, as it is unethical.
Additionally, bias-based profiling alienates citizens,
fosters distrust of law enforcement by the community, and
invites media scrutiny, legislative action and judicial
Police officers of the Winter Haven Police Department will
focus on a person’s conduct or other specific suspect
information. They must have reasonable suspicion supported
by specific articulated facts that the person contacted
regarding their identification, activity or location has
been, is, or is about to commit a crime or is currently
presenting a threat to the safety of themselves or others.
Training of Department police officers shall include but not
be limited to proactive enforcement tactics, including
training in officer safety, courtesy, cultural diversity,
the laws governing search and seizure, and interpersonal
communications skills, field contacts, traffic stops,
forfeiture, discrimination, and community support.
Any person may file a complaint with the Department if they
feel they have been stopped or searched based on racial,
ethnic, or gender-based profiling, and no person shall be
discouraged, intimidated, or coerced from filing such a
complaint, or discriminated against because they have filed
such a complaint. Complaint procedures and their
investigations are outlined in Departmental General Orders.
On an annual basis, the Department prepares a summary and
analysis of all complaints filed with the Department. With
this summary, the Department shall review the practices of
its personnel along with the concerns of the citizens of
Periodically, supervisors shall review profiling complaints;
reports filed on stops by officers, respond at random to
back up officers on police actions and shall take
appropriate action whenever it appears that this policy is
being violated. They shall be particularly alert to any
pattern or practice of bias based profiling by individual
officers or groups. If identified, disciplinary action shall
be taken as outlined in Departmental General Orders.
The Winter Haven Police Department will make available to
the public, information pamphlets regarding interacting with
law enforcement officials and procedures to file a
commendation or complaint on a Department member. These
pamphlets are available in the lobby of the Police
Department as well as provided to members to distribute to
citizens they may come in contact with. Other avenues to
disseminate this information may include but not be limited
to meetings with civic groups, crime watch and citizen
police academy programs.
Inspector Elisa Martin
Phone: 863-291-5858, ext. 2346