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Durham Police Department complaints and complaint process 


Durham Police Department complaints

Although the numbers of complaints and the findings are public record, the details of the complaints and investigations are not; nor are the disciplinary actions levied against the officers.

Here are what the terms mean:

Exonerated—The 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.
Unfounded—The incident did not occur or officers weren't involved.
Discontinued—The officer left the department.

*Total can be less than the sum because one complaint can have several allegations.

Durham Police complaint process

This is how the Durham Police Department's complaint process is supposed to work.

  1. An individual files a complaint with the Durham Police Department in person, by phone or in writing.

  2. The complaint is sent to the Professional Standards Division, where the head of that department decides whether the complaint warrants a criminal or administrative investigation. Depending on the severity of the accusations, the complaint may be investigated by an officer in Internal Affairs, or by a supervisor of the accused employee.

  3. The investigator compiles a report, complete with recorded or signed statements from all witnesses. The supervisor of the Professional Standards Division checks the report for objectivity.

  4. The employee's chain of command reviews the case and recommends an outcome based on the findings, including whether the employee should be disciplined. Discipline can range from coaching/ counseling to a demotion or termination.

  5. Both the employee and the person who filed the complaint are sent a letter of the outcome, or disposition, of the case.

  6. If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome, he or she has 14 days to appeal the case to the Civilian Police Review Board.

  7. Upon receiving an appeal, the review board studies the complaint and determines whether the investigation was timely, objective and thorough. If the investigation wasn't completed properly, the board makes recommendations to the city manager and police department.

  8. The board has power only to examine how the investigation was completed, not whether the investigator's findings were appropriate. The board may, however, ask the police department to reopen a case if its members believe that police made a finding inconsistent with the evidence they have seen.

For more information, visit Commendation/Complaint Forms and Procedures at Durham Police Department and Civilian Police Review Board at City of Durham Manager's Office.

Sources: Durham Police Department, Durham Civilian Police Review Board

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  • Durham police have received 28 complaints in 2009 (through October).


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