Citizen Complaint Procedure

Who May Complain & How?

Any citizen who feels that they have knowledge of police corruption or misconduct is encouraged to use the Essex Police Department Complaint Procedure.

A complaint may be made by contacting the police department officer-in-charge either in person or by telephone. The officer-in-charge will provide a complaint form that will be forwarded to the office of the Chief of Police who will make a determination as to who will be assigned to investigate the complaint. Complaints may also be made directly to the Chief of Police during normal business hours.

Every complaint, regardless of its nature, is assigned for investigation. Whenever possible, minor breaches of regulations are assigned to the accused employee's supervisor since discipline is recognized as a function of command.

Internal Affairs

The function of the internal affairs is to ensure the integrity of the Essex Police Department and its personnel, both sworn and non-sworn.

It is the goal of the Citizen Complaint Procedure that the rights of all citizens be protected and that police officers be free to exercise their best judgement and to initiate action in a reasonable, lawful, impartial manner without fear of reprisal. A proper relationship between the police and the citizens of Essex, fostered by trust and confidence, is essential to effective law enforcement.

This complaint and disciplinary procedure system not only subjects officers to corrective action when behaving improperly, but also protects them from unwarranted criticism when discharging their duties properly.

What Should Be Reported

Police behavior that should be subject to citizen complaints includes:

Corruption, such as:

  • Acceptance of gratuities, etc.
  • Bribery
  • Theft

Misconduct, such as:

  • Any suspected criminal activity
  • Excessive force
  • Harassment
  • Unlawful arrest
  • Unprofessional conduct

Report

These complaints are thoroughly investigated and a written report is prepared which includes statements from the complainant, the accused and all witnesses. The completed investigative report also includes a narrative summary of the events and a finding of facts as determined by the information provided by all those involved. Prior to leaving the internal affairs function for disciplinary recommendation, the report is reviewed by the investigating officer's supervisor for thoroughness and objectivity.

The report must not reflect any personal opinion but rather present an unbiased picture of the circumstances as they actually occurred. This permits the examiner to make a proper recommendation, based on the investigative findings presented.

The report is then submitted to the Chief of Police for his or her evaluation. If the Chief of Police has reason to believe there was misconduct or corruption on the part of the employee, the Chief shall make a determination as to what appropriate action shall be initiated.

Disposition of Complaints

The disposition of complaints are classified as follows:

  • Unfounded: The allegation is false or not factual.
  • Exonerated: The incident occurred, but the employee acted lawfully or properly.
  • Not Sustained: The allegation is not substantiated. There is not sufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation.
  • Sustained: The allegation is substantiated.

In all cases the employee is notified of the disposition.

Disciplinary Action

There are four types of disciplinary action which can be recommended for a sustained case:

  1. Verbal reprimand
  2. Written reprimand
  3. Suspension
  4. Dismissal

Summary of Complaint Procedures

  1. Telephone the police department at any time and ask for the officer-in-charge by calling 802-878-1333.
  2. Come in person to the police department at 145 Maple Street in Essex Junction.
  3. Present the complaint to the officer-in-charge.
  4. The case is assigned for investigation and a report is made to the Chief of Police.
  5. The report is reviewed by the Chief of Police and a determination is made as to the proper disposition of the complaint.
  6. You are notified as to the disposition of your complaint.