All 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 further investigation;
Declare the complaint unfounded;
Initiate disciplinary procedure without further investigation;
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 number.
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 investigator.
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 investigation.
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 assignment.
The original copy shall be forwarded to the involved member’s Bureau
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 investigation.
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 identifiable group.
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 intervention.
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 this community.
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.