Rochester Police Department Citizen Complaint Process

UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS 

You have filed a complaint because you think a police officer(s) acted improperly or that your rights were violated. What happens next?

THE INTERVIEW 

A police command officer of the rank of sergeant or above will interview you about your complaint.  They will ask you questions about what happened. It is possible that the command officer may be able to explain the officer(s) actions to your satisfaction.

  • You may be interviewed at the Rochester Police Department's (RPD) Professional Standards Section (Internal Affairs), 846 South Clinton Ave and you may be videotaped during your interview.
  • If you wish, you may bring a lawyer, family member or friend to your interview.
  • The command officer will ask you for the names of witnesses and other police officers that may know circumstances about your complaint.
  • A police photographer may take pictures of any injuries that you believe are related to your complaint.

THE INVESTIGATION 

After your interview, RPD will investigate your complaint. Investigators will talk to witnesses and visit the site of the incident.

  • Investigators are command officers assigned to the Professional Standards Section.
  • All officers will be interviewed and witnesses you have named will be contacted and interviewed as well if they are in agreement. You may also be contacted for more information.
  • You will receive a letter telling you about the progress of the investigation. Although it is impossible to estimate how long the investigation will take, you will receive periodic reports on its status. If you have any questions, you may call the Professional Standards Section, (585) 428-7131.
  • A final report will then be prepared.

THE REVIEW 

  • The Chief of Police reviews every complaint after the investigation is complete and a report is written.
  • If your complaint includes excessive force or alleges an officer committed a crime, it will also be reviewed by the Civilian Review Board (CRB). The Board includes three citizens who are not members of RPD.
  • The CRB will review your complaint, statements from all witnesses and reports from the investigation. The CRB may ask for additional information before making its recommendations to the Chief of Police. The CRB may also choose to interview witnesses.
  • The results of investigations where there are no charges a police officer used excessive force or committed a crime are also reviewed by the Chief of Police.
  • The Chief of Police reviews investigations and makes the final decision on all complaints.

THE FINDINGS 

The results of your complaint are called "Findings." There are four possible Findings:

  • Sustained - Your complaint has been supported: The officer(s) involved acted improperly and may be disciplined.
  • Unfounded - The investigation found no basis to your complaint.
  • Exonerated - The police officer(s) involved acted properly and will not be disciplined.
  • Unprovable - There was not enough evidence to prove your complaint true or false, so no further action will be taken.

The Chief of Police will decide on a finding for your complaint and will inform you by letter of the result. If you want more information or explanation, you can call the Professional Standards Section, (585) 428-7131.

IF YOUR COMPLAINT IS SUSTAINED 

If the finding is "Sustained," the Chief of Police can take several actions. He can require extra training or counseling for the officer(s) involved or he can charge them with violating Rochester Police Department Rules and Regulations.

  • If they face charges, the officer(s) will be given a hearing where you may be asked to testify.
  • The hearing is usually conducted at the Public Safety Building and you may bring a lawyer or any other person with you if you are asked to appear.
  • If the officer(s) are found "Guilty" after the hearing, they may be reprimanded, fined, suspended, demoted or fired. The Chief of Police will make the final determination.

YOUR RIGHTS AFTER THE FINDING 

However your complaint is resolved, you will be notified by mail of the outcome. You will also be notified if the process takes longer than 60 days to determine a finding. You may ask about your complaint's status at any time by calling the Professional Standards Section at(585) 428-7131.

Be sure to notify the Professional Standards Section immediately if you change your address during the investigation.

  • If you are not satisfied with the finding, you can make an appointment with the investigator(s) by calling (585) 428-7131.
  • If you wish to file a claim against the City for any damages you believe you have suffered, you can obtain a form from the City Law Department, (585) 428-6896.
  • If you believe you have basis for a criminal or civil law suit, you can speak to a lawyer. The Monroe County Bar Association can refer you to a lawyer, (585) 546-2130.

YOUR COMPLAINT IS IMPORTANT 

The complaint process is designed to deal with each case factually and fairly. Citizens who file complaints are treated respectfully. Allegations and charges against a police officer(s) are taken very seriously.  You can provide Comment about a police officer. 

All complaints are investigated thoroughly and all findings by the Chief of Police are based upon the evidence developed during the investigation.

For more information about the Rochester Police Department's Citizen Complaint Investigation & Review Process or to find out about the status of your complaint, call the Professional Standards Section, (585) 428-7131, or email PSSMail@cityofrochester.gov.