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RPD: Citizen complaint process

Understanding the process

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

The interview

A police command officer with the rank of Sergeant or above will interview you about your complaint and 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 (RPD) Professional Standards Section office (PSS-Internal Affairs), 846 South Clinton Avenue and you may be videotaped during your interview.
  • You may bring a lawyer, family member or friend to your interview if you wish.
  • The command officer will ask you for the names of witnesses that may be aware of the 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, the RPD will investigate your complaint. Investigators will talk to witnesses and visit the scene of the incident.

  • Investigators are command officers assigned to PSS.
  • All officers will be interviewed, as well as the witnesses you have named if they are in agreement. You may be contacted for more information.
  • You will receive a letter informing you of the status of your complaint. Although it is impossible to estimate how long an investigation will take, you will receive periodic reports on its status. If you have any questions, you may call PSS at (585) 428-7131.
  • A final report will be prepared upon the investigation's completion.

The review

  • The Chief of Police reviews every complaint after the investigation is completed and a final report is written.
  • 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: The alleged act occurred and amounted to misconduct on the part of the officer.
  • Unsubstantiated - There is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation.
  • Exonerated - The officer's actions were lawful, justified and proper, or the alleged act was disproven and did not occur.
  • Policy Review - The allegation is true, however, the action of the employee was consistent with current agency policy. The policy will be placed under review.
  • Referred for Training - Conduct alleged occurred, does not rise to misconduct, and requires training..

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, call PSS at 585-428-7131.

If your complaint is sustained

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

  • If they face charges, the officer(s) will be given a hearing where you may be asked to testify.
  • Hearings are usually conducted at the City Public Safety Building (PSB). 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 PSS at (585) 428-7131.

Be sure to notify PSS 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 PSS at (585) 428-7131.
  • If you wish to file a claim against the City for any damages you believe you have suffered, you can obtain the appropriate form from the City Law Department, (585) 428-6896.
  • If you believe you have basis for a criminal or civil lawsuit, 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 here. 

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 RPD's Citizen Complaint Investigation & Review Process or to find out about the status of your complaint, call PSS at (585) 428-7131, or by email: