2nd Edition

Police Misconduct Complaint Investigations Manual

By Barbara Attard, Kathryn Olson Copyright 2020
    116 Pages
    by Routledge

    116 Pages
    by Routledge

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    The Police Misconduct Complaint Investigations Manual provides a timely and unique, step-by-step approach to conducting or reviewing police misconduct investigations, whether a complaint involves a lower-level allegation of discourtesy or more serious concerns such as excessive force or criminal behavior. Utilizing real-life examples and updated case law to illustrate points, it provides best practices for investigating police action resulting in misconduct complaints. The Manual’s comprehensive approach includes detailed procedures and policy considerations from intake through case closure, and discusses data tracking, reporting on trends, selecting and training investigative staff, civilian oversight, and a host of special issues that can arise with police misconduct complaints.

    The Manual is suitable for both sworn personnel and civilians handling or reviewing investigations and whether working internally for a police department or externally in oversight or another capacity. The guidance provides detailed examples of witness interview questions and types of evidence to collect, with discussion on making difficult credibility determinations and approaches to analyzing the information gathered to arrive at a recommended finding. Review questions are found at the end of most chapters, for use in academic or investigative training environments. Police officers engaged in the often complex and challenging work of public safety deserve and expect objective, thorough, and timely handling of complaints. Complainants and other stakeholders seek accountability and transparency when an officer behaves in a way that raises questions about their professionalism. The Complaint Investigations Manual provides instruction on handling misconduct complaints in a manner that will ensure the goals of law enforcement and stakeholders are met.

    The authors intentionally use a broad approach to make the Manual relevant and easy to use by law enforcement personnel, civilians in oversight or other capacities who work on police misconduct matters, and the criminal justice academic community. It is a critical primer for internal affairs investigators, police managers, law enforcement leaders, auditing professionals, civilian oversight practitioners, government representatives, community advocates, criminal and social justice students, and all others in pursuit of fair, thorough, and timely investigations of police misconduct complaints.

    1. Introduction; 

    2. Complaint Intake and the Initial Assessment Process

    3. Complaint Classification and the Investigation Process

    4. Finalizing the Investigation: Evaluating Evidence, Determining Findings, Making Recommendations, Report Writing, and Complaint Closure

    5. Special Issues in Investigating or Reviewing Police Misconduct Complaints

    6. Reporting Out — Statistics, Recommendations, and More

    7. Personnel and Training Considerations

    8. Administrative Operations

    9. Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement

    10. Conclusion


    Barbara Attard, a police practices consultant at Accountability Associates, has held executive positions in a variety of oversight agencies conducting quality control of police misconduct investigations. Throughout her career she has developed and conducted training on investigations, oversight, ethics, report writing, and community engagement  in the United States and internationally. With a focus on accountability systems that ensure fairness and transparency, Barbara's work includes consulting on development of independent oversight programs, providing expert witness testimony,  and authoring publications on oversight and mediation.

    Kathryn Olson, a partner in Change Integration Consulting, LLC, has deep and broad experience in law, executive leadership, and training, which combine to create a unique skill set to assess practices that impact law enforcement professionals and the communities served. She brings an extensive background in conducting investigations of complex, sensitive complaints in unionized environments, along with personnel and operations management experience, in co-authoring the Police Misconduct Complaint Investigations Manual. Kathryn’s diverse consulting practice includes handling complaints against police commanders, evaluating investigation systems and developing improvement strategies, and serving as an expert witness on investigation best practices and procedural justice.