The Richmond Police Department Professional Standards Unit is committed to insuring that our employees provide the best service, individually and collectively, to the public. In order to meet this obligation the Professional Standards Unit conducts audits on performance, investigates complaints, reviews all use of force incidents, reviews all pursuits incidents as well as officer involved collisions, manages liability claims against the police department, coordinates discovery requests from attorneys in litigation on police matters, works with judges to examine peace officer records as required by law, and routinely examines complaint patterns of officers to prevent future incidents of errant behavior.
One of the key functions of the Professional Standards Unit is the investigation of complaints which are brought forward by the public or generated internally. Government Code section 3300 et seq. controls the complaint and investigative process when the accused employee is a police officer. These rules are commonly referred to as the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights. Some noteworthy rules written into the law are:
- Interviews of accused officers must be held during reasonable hours. If the officer is off-duty, they must be compensated. The officer is to be told of the nature of the investigation prior to any interview, and no more than two interviewers can ask questions. Government Code 3303(a) through (c)
- No officer can be subjected to offensive or threatening language, nor shall any promises, rewards or other inducements be used to obtain answers. Any officer refusing to answer questions directly related to the investigation can be ordered to answer questions (administratively) under threat of disciplinary action for insubordination, but nothing administratively ordered may be provided to a criminal investigator. The employer cannot cause the officer under interrogation to be subjected to visits by the press or news media without his or her express consent, nor can his or her home address or photograph be given to the press or news media without his or her express consent. Government Code 3303(e)
- If the allegations involve potential criminal conduct, the officers must be advised of his/her Constitutional Rights pursuant to Lybarger (Lybarger v. City of Los Angeles 1985) A peace officer may be questioned by their department about suspected misconduct, even if also suspected of criminal misconduct; but the officer cannot be charged with insubordination for remaining silent in the interrogation unless he is warned (1) that he/she must cooperate with the interrogation or face disciplinary action, and (2) that his/her statements given in response to this warning cannot not be used against him/her in criminal proceedings. Government Code 3303(h)
- All employees subjected to interviews that could result in punitive action have the right to have an uninvolved representative present during the interview. However, in order to maintain the integrity of each individual employee’s statement, involved employees shall not consult or meet with a representative or attorney collectively or in groups prior to being interviewed. Government Code 3303(i)
- All employees shall provide complete and truthful responses to questions posed during interviews.
- No officer can be compelled to submit to a polygraph examination, nor can any refusal be mentioned in any investigation. Government Code 3307
- Where it can be shown that a public safety officer’s agency “maliciously violated” the Act “with the intent to injure the public safety officer,” relief to a public safety officer can be due in the form of civil penalty of up to $25,000.00 and attorney’s fees. Government Code 3309.5
When the Police Department receives a personnel complaint it is reviewed by the unit commander before it gets assigned to an investigator, typically a sworn staff member of the rank of sergeant or higher. A comprehensive inquiry is done that involves detailed interviews of complaining parties, witnesses, accused officers, and all relevant evidence is gathered.
Internal investigations typically take time because of the amount of detail necessary to prove the allegation and they are subject to several layers of review when completed. Once the investigator gathers all of the facts and conducts an analysis with our policy and procedures the investigation results in a final disposition. The California Penal Code allows four possible conclusions to a completed investigation:
- Unfounded – When the investigation discloses that the alleged act(s) did not occur or did not involve Department personnel. Complaints which are determined to be frivolous will fall within the classification of unfounded. Penal Code Sec. 832.5(c)
- Exonerated – When the investigation discloses that the alleged act occurred, but that the act was justified, lawful and/or proper.
- Not Sustained – When the investigation discloses that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the complaint or fully exonerate the employee.
- Sustained – When the investigation discloses sufficient evidence to establish that the act occurred and that it constituted misconduct.
Every investigation is expected to proceed with due diligence and every effort is made to complete each investigation within a reasonable time period. If a complaining party is not satisfied with the findings of the Department concerning their complaint they may contact the Chief of Police.
All investigations of personnel complaints are confidential as they are peace officer personnel files. These files cannot be released to anyone other than the respective employee without a lawful process. One such process is “Pitchess Motion”, a process by which an attorney can petition the Court for a legal order to compel a police agency to disclose certain information contained in the officer’s personnel record.
Make a Complaint or Extend a Compliment
The first step in making a formal Service or Personnel Complaint is to complete and submit a Service/Personnel Complaint Form. The form must be printed out, filled in with details regarding the incident and the allegation(s), signed by the complainant, and submitted to the Richmond Police Department. They can be dropped off at the Police Department or sent through the mail. Our address is 1701 Regatta Boulevard, Richmond CA 94804.
We are also always happy to hear compliments of RPD employees. When you extend a compliment to an RPD employee we will assure they receive your message. Compliments are stored in employee's personnel file and are reflected in annual employee evaluations. If you which to compliment an RPD employee you may visit the Compliment an RPD Employee page on this website.
The Richmond Police Commission
The Professional Standards Unit investigates any allegation of misconduct of an employee. The Richmond Police Commission is an independent investigative body that looks into complaints against the police related to:
- The use of excessive or unnecessary force and racially abusive treatment
- Handling appeals from Professional Standards investigations
- Reviewing and evaluating the policies, practices and procedures contained in the Richmond Police Department Policy Manual
- Developing programs and strategies to promote positive police-community relations
For additional information on the Richmond Police Commission please visit their webpage.
We welcome your comments, questions, and concerns.
Professional Standards Unit Voicemail
Lieutenant D. Harris
Monday - Thursday
7:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Sergeant F. Tan
Tuesday - Friday
9:00 AM t0 7:00 PM
Sergeant A. Walle
Monday - Thursday
6:00 AM to 4:00 PM