Complaint Against an Officer
The citizens of Burlington and the State of Colorado have granted certain responsibilities and authority to the Burlington Police Department. The department recognizes its responsibility to maintain the public confidence and trust, and the need to ensure integrity and accountability both by the agency and by the employee. As we recognize the rights of all citizens, citizens should recognize that department employees must be free to exercise their best judgment in taking necessary and reasonable action in the performance of their duties without fear of reprisal. Specific complaint procedures have been adopted by the Burlington Police Department to ensure that fair and proper action is taken when an employee is accused of misconduct. This also protects employees from unwarranted or false accusations. Additionally, this system provides a means of identifying and correcting deficiencies in policies, procedures, supervision, or training.
Who may make a complaint?
Any citizen or any Department employee may make a complaint. Normally, the person most directly affected by the alleged conduct should be the person to complain. An example of this is that a complaint of rudeness to a driver should be made by the driver, not a passenger in the vehicle. Exceptions to this would include a parent filing a complaint for a minor child or other similar situation.
In what form should complaints be made?
Complaints may be made in person or submitted online. Complaints should concisely and specifically describe the conduct of the employee that was found to be improper. Rather than say the employee was rude, explain how the employee was rude by providing the specific words or phrases, describing the employee's tone of voice, or citing particular acts of rudeness. Identify the employee as much as possible. This can be accomplished by providing the employee's name, badge number, patrol vehicle license number, and the date, time, and location of the incident. Department employees are required by policy to properly identify themselves upon request. If available, include the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.
When may complaints be made?
Complaints may be made at any time. Additionally, complaints should be made within a reasonable time after the alleged misconduct occurred to help ensure evidence is still available and recollections of the incident are fresh.
What things can be complained about?
The focus of Department procedures is on alleged misconduct by a department employee. This encompasses violations of the laws or Department rules and regulations. A disagreement with a policy or a law or the application of a policy or law is not considered a "complaint", and will normally be referred to the Chief of Police.
How does making a complaint affect present or future charges against me?
Any charges or legal issues must be decided by the appropriate court. The investigation of your complaint will focus on the conduct of the employee, not the charges against you. Therefore, the charges against you are a separate issue which you will have to resolve in court. Employees are prohibited from retaliating against you, either in the present case or in the future, for lodging a complaint against them.
Can I make an anonymous complaint?
Anonymous complaints are investigated; however, investigations are less likely to reveal all the facts surrounding an alleged incident when we are deprived of the opportunity to contact the complainant. Also, an anonymous complainant cannot be made aware of the results of the investigation. For these reasons we strongly encourage persons having legitimate concerns to fill out the complaint form and fully cooperate with the investigation.
The Investigative Process
- Other than those complaints which are immediately resolved, every complaint of misconduct by an employee will be investigated.
- Upon receipt of a complaint, the Chief of Police will contact the complainant acknowledging receipt of the complaint. A preliminary inquiry may be conducted by telephone, by mail, by email, or in-person to clarify specific issues.
- Investigators will attempt to contact the complainant, the accused employee, and witnesses; examine physical evidence; review reports and records, and thoroughly document the facts surrounding the incident.
- Disciplinary action will be initiated when deemed appropriate, and the Chief of Police or his designee will write a letter to the person who signed the complaint notifying them that the investigation is complete.
Some complaints may be resolved at the time they are made. For example, an explanation that the law requires (or allows) an employee to perform certain acts may be resolved by the Chief of Police if the complainant agrees that no further investigation of the incident is necessary.
Withdrawing a Complaint
Any person may voluntarily withdraw a complaint at any point during the investigative process. Complaint withdrawal is appropriate in situations where additional information is learned which cause the complainant to realize the department employee's actions were proper. The department may, however, elect to continue the investigation if circumstances warrant.
Make a Complaint
Contact the Burlington Police Department in person at 480 15th Street, or submit your complaint using the online form provided.