Internal Affairs Unit
The Internal Affairs Unit, which is part of the Professional Standards Division, investigates resident complaints and administrative rule violations alleged against police personnel and reports the results of such investigations to the Chief of Police; and advocates resident and administrative complaints at department hearings and boards.
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Function & Responsibilities
A proper relationship between the police and the residents of Durham fostered by confidence and trust is essential to effective law enforcement. Police officers must be free to exercise their best judgment and initiate action in a reasonable, lawful and impartial manner without fear of reprisal. At the same time, they must observe the rights of all people.
This system of complaint and disciplinary procedures not only subjects the officer to corrective action when he conducts himself improperly, but also protects him/her from unwanted criticism when he discharges his / her duties properly.
Resident Complaint Procedure
Who May Register a Complaint?
A complaint may be made by any resident and can be made by telephone, in person or online. Anonymous complaints will be handled at the discretion of the Chief of Police. In the event an internal affairs investigator is not available to take a complaint, a complaint may be submitted to the desk officer or any member of the Police Department holding the rank of sergeant or above. All complaints will be forwarded to the Professional Standards Office for processing.
Upon receipt of a complaint, a determination will be made by the Chief of Police or the commander of the Professional Standards Division as to whether it is a criminal or administrative investigation. Assignment of the complaint is at the discretion of the Professional Standards commander.
Once filed, a complaint is thoroughly investigated. A report is prepared which includes taped and / or signed 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 taped and / or signed statements of those involved. Prior to leaving the Internal Affairs Unit for disciplinary recommendation, the report is reviewed by the Professional Standards commander for completeness 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 facts and investigative findings presented.
The finalized report will be reviewed by the employee's chain of command. The chain of command will recommend case disposition, and disciplinary action if necessary to the Chief of Police.
The employee's chain of command may consist of his / her immediate supervisor, division commanders, bureau commanders and the Chief of Police.
Disposition of Complaints
The dispositions of the complaints are classified as follows:
- Unfounded - Incident did not occur or officers not involved
- Exonerated - Incident occurred but officer acted lawfully and properly
- Not Sustained - Insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation
- Sustained - Allegation is supported by sufficient evidence
- Policy Failure - The allegation is true; actions of the agency or officer was not inconsistent with agency policy
In all cases, the officer is notified of the disposition.
There are 6 levels of discipline for a City of Durham employee that include:
- Coaching and counseling
- Written reprimand
- Reduction of salary or demotion
A complainant will not be told the level of discipline that an employee receives due to the Personnel Privacy Act.
Civilian Police Review Board
The Civilian Police Review Board will hear appeals of complaint dispositions in three primary areas
- Use of force
- Unethical conduct and arrest
- Search and seizure
The primary function of this non-partisan board is to hear cases from persons claiming to be aggrieved by an action of a Durham Police employee.
Upon receipt of a case disposition, a complainant has 30 business days to notify the City Clerk's Office in writing that they wish to appeal the case to the board. The board will make a written recommendation to the City Manager on each case. The board will then determine whether, based on the facts of the case, to hold an appeals hearing.
Civilian Police Review Board Members
The Civilian Police Review Board is composed of nine members. The members are Durham residents who are appointed by the City Manager.
The City Clerk's Office can be contacted at 919-560-4166.
Summary of Complaint Procedures
- Telephone the Internal Affairs Unit at 919-560-4430, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or come in person to the Police Department at 602 E. Main Street.
- Present your complaint to the Internal Affairs investigator
- The case is then assigned for investigation
- Complainant is informed of the disposition by letter
- If complainant is not satisfied with the disposition, the complainant may refer the case to the Civilian Police Review Board