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Internal Affairs Unit - Complaints Procedure

Published on: 3/27/2014 4:02 PM
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The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office is responsible for protecting the lives of people in Santa Clara County. Our deputies are highly trained and educated. They serve with professional pride, and they want you to share the pride.

The deputies assigned in the Sheriff's Office respond to thousands of calls for service annually and come into contact with the public everyday. Deputies serve as arbitrators in thousands of cases when they are asked to resolve differences between individuals or groups. Many times the decisions made by the deputies will restrict the freedom and liberty of these persons. Often these decisions materially affect the course of people's lives.

We fully realize that our involvement in these complex and often emotionally charged situations may not always result in a level of performance you have grown to expect. For this reason, the Sheriff's Office has a well defined procedure for assisting persons who wish to voice their grievances against our operations, policies, or employee conduct.

All investigations are thorough and objective and are aimed at maintaining public confidence and departmental integrity. The goal is neither to condemn nor to exonerate, but rather to identify and evaluate all the facts surrounding the incident in question.

Effect on Criminal Prosecution: The investigation within the Sheriff's Office of the conduct of its officers and the District Attorney's prosecution of a criminal case are two separate matters. If a person arrested by the Sheriff's Office files a complaint against those officers, such action will in no manner affect the prosecutor's independent decision to proceed with the criminal action.

Person's Obligation: A mandatory requirement in the making of a complaint against an officer is that it be made as accurately and honestly as possible. Simple errors, omissions, and misperceptions are understandable and not uncommon.

A complaint which is false, however, and made with knowledge of its falsity, and made with spite, hatred, or ill will, which accuses an officer of misconduct, criminal conduct, or incompetence, will expose the maker of such false complaint to a civil action brought by the officer. This advisement is not made to dissuade the making of a bona fide complaint, for such complaints should be made and investigated. It is directed only to those few individuals who believe that false complaints against officers can be made with impunity.

Procedure: Every person has the right to lodge a complaint against either the Sheriff's Office or any individual member employed by the department. Complaint forms are available at all Sheriff's Office facilities or you can click on the links below. While personal contact is desirable, initial complaints may be made by telephone or letter. The attached form should be completed and returned to the Internal Affairs Unit.

When a complaint is received, it is forwarded to the office of Internal Affairs Investigations. A thorough investigation will be conducted. Upon completion of the investigation, all findings are directed through divisional supervisors, along with their respective recommendations, to the Sheriff for final decision.

In all cases the person making the complaint is informed of its final disposition to the extent allowed by law and can obtain a copy of their statement upon request. Although department investigators will exert every effort to uncover the truth of such situation, in those instances where the person feels that a proper investigation has not been conducted, the Sheriff's Office urges that person to seek further recourse through any of the outside agencies listed below.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY
OFFICE OF THE SHERIFF
INTERNAL AFFAIRS INVESTIGATIONS

55 W. Younger Avenue
San Jose, CA 95110-1721
(408) 808-4930

SANTA CLARA COUNTY
DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE

70 W. Hedding Street
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 299-7500

CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
P.O. Box 90337
Sacramento, CA 94203-3337
(916) 227-4040

SANTA CLARA COUNTY
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY DIVISION
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

950 South Bascom Avenue Suite 3011
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 998-5633

SANTA CLARA COUNTY
HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION

70 W. Hedding Street
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 299-2206

U.S. EQUAL OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION
96 N. Third Street Suite 200
San Jose, CA 95112
(408) 291-7352

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION LOCAL CHAPTER
P.O. 5303
San Jose, CA 95150-5303
(408)293-2584 

SANTA CLARA COUNTY EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT
70 W. Hedding Street, 11th Floor
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 299-2743

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