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Title 04
Chapter 04.32
Section 04.32.030
 

Title 04 Administrative Agencies and Procedures

Chapter 04.32 Office of Police Ombudsman (OPO)

Section 04.32.030 Functions and Duties

The functions and duties of the OPO are as follows:

  1. The OPO will actively monitor all police department OPO Involved Investigations as provided herein.

  2. The OPO may receive complaints from any complaining party, including, without limitation, citizens or employees of the police department. The OPO may conduct a preliminary investigation regarding the complaint for the purpose of determining whether to forward the complaint to IA. The preliminary investigation shall include, as appropriate, interviewing the complainant and interviewing any other person who the complainant asserts was subject to the improper use of force or improper/inappropriate interaction with an officer. If after this interview(s) the OPO is unable to determine whether the matter should be forwarded to IA, the OPO may conduct such additional interviews as are reasonably necessary to determine whether to forward the case to IA. If a complainant or witness refuses to have his or her interview recorded, he or she shall be asked to write out his or her complaint. All interviews will be conducted by the OPO. In the event the OPO is unavailable to conduct the initial interview, the complainant will be asked to prepare a written statement or taped oral narrative concerning the matter, allowing the OPO to subsequently determine whether an actual interview should be conducted. Officers will not be interviewed as part of the preliminary investigation, unless the complainant is an officer. If the complainant is an officer, the OPO may request an interview from the complainant officer as part of the preliminary investigation.

If the OPO determines that the complaint should not be forwarded to IA, the OPO may publish a closing report, which states the allegations of the complaint and the basis for the OPO’s determination that the complaint did not need to be forwarded to IA. Neither this closing report nor the preliminary investigation shall be used for discipline; the closing report and any part of the preliminary investigation that is released shall not reveal the names of the officers involved. For each complaint where the OPO determines that the complaint does not need to be forwarded to IA, the OPO shall forward to IA its determination as well as the name of any complainant and/or witnesses and the details of the alleged complaint.

If the OPO determines that the complaint should be forwarded to IA, the OPO will forward the complaint and any preliminary investigation to IA within three business days for processing and, when appropriate, investigation. The OPO will not act upon complaints concerning events that occurred more than one year prior to the filing of a complaint. The OPO will not conduct separate disciplinary investigations, but may participate in all OPO Involved Investigation interviews and request that further investigation be conducted by IA as provided herein.

  1. In addition to complaints received by the OPO, IA will provide copies of all other OPO Involved Investigation complaints to the OPO within three business days. Once the case is closed, the OPO will return all case file materials to IA for retention consistent with the police department’s record retention policy but will have subsequent access to closed cases.

  2. The OPO will have the opportunity to make a recommendation for mediation to the chief of police prior to investigation. In the event the department, the complainant, and the officer all agree to mediation, that process will be utilized rather than sending the matter on for investigation. Assuming the officer participates in good faith during the mediation process, the officer will not be subject to discipline, and no disciplinary finding will be entered against the officer. Good faith means that the officer listens to all information presented and considers the issues raised by the complainant, and acts and responds appropriately. Agreement with either the complainant or the mediator is not a requirement of good faith. In the event an agreement to mediate is reached and the complainant thereafter refuses to participate, the officer will be considered to have participated in good faith.

  3. Once any complaint is received by IA, including those forwarded to IA from the OPO, it shall be submitted to the chain of command for review per existing police department policy. When either the chief or his or her designee determines that the allegations warrant investigation, such investigation shall be approved, and IA will initiate the investigative process. The OPO will participate in that investigation process for OPO Involved Investigations as follows:

    1. Internal affairs will notify the OPO of all administrative interviews on all OPO Involved Investigations. The OPO may attend and observe interviews in person or by telephone and will be given the opportunity to ask questions during the interview and after the completion of questioning by the department. The OPO will not participate in criminal investigations of department employees, but will be notified when the criminal investigation is concluded.

    2. Upon completion of OPO Involved Investigations, IA will forward a complete copy of the case file to the OPO for review. The OPO will review the case file and determine whether the investigation was timely, thorough and objective.

  4. As a part of the review process, the OPO may conclude that further investigation is needed on issues deemed material to the outcome. The OPO will notify IA of the suggested further investigation. The OPO’s suggestions and rationale for further investigation will be provided to IA in writing. The OPO and assigned investigator(s) will discuss the suggested further investigation and attempt to reach an agreement. If there is no agreement between the assigned investigator(s) and the OPO regarding the necessity, practicality, or materiality of the requested further investigation, the OPO will notify the chief (or designee) in writing of the OPO’s suggestions and rational for further investigation. The chief (or designee) will determine whether further investigation will be undertaken by IA. The chief (or designee) will provide his or her determination to the OPO in writing.

If the OPO is not satisfied with the determination of the chief, the OPO’s request for further investigation may be presented to the commission, whose decision will be final. The decision of the commission will be based upon the OPO’s written request and the chief’s (or designee’s) written response. Once the matter has been referred to and resolved by the commission, the IA investigation will be completed consistent with the determination by the commission on the OPO’s request. After providing IA a reasonable opportunity to complete the further investigation, if the commission determines and specifically describes in writing how the IA investigation was not completed consistent with the commission’s decision, the commission may again direct IA to complete the further investigation in the OPO’s request, or the commission may publish a report stating what further investigation in the OPO’s request the commission believes was not completed by IA. If the OPO has not yet made a certification decision, a certification decision shall be made by the OPO. In addition to its report, the commission may direct the OPO or a third-party investigator to complete the further investigation requested by the OPO; however, no such investigation may commence until the Chief has made a final, written discipline determination in the matter. If the commission contracts for a third-party investigation, it shall be conducted by someone with knowledge and experience in conducting a fair and objective law-enforcement investigation and who has no conflict of interest. The OPO or third-party investigator may request, but not require, participation by police officers in the investigation. Once the OPO or third-party investigator has completed the OPO requested investigation, the Commission may publish a report of the results of the investigation of the OPO or third-party investigation, so long as the report does not identify specific members of the department and does not in any way comment on officer discipline (or lack thereof). The further investigation and/or the commission’s report may not be used by the City as a basis to open or re-open complaints against any bargaining unit employees, including those assigned to IA, or to reconsider any decision(s) previously made concerning discipline. No discipline of bargaining unit employees may result from the OPO or third-party investigation.

After completion of the further investigation by IA, or the conclusion, by IA or the commission, that no further investigation by IA will be undertaken, the OPO will then certify whether or not, in the opinion of the OPO, the internal investigation was timely, thorough and objective. This determination will be made within five business days. Once the certification determination is made, the OPO will not be involved further in the disciplinary process in that case.

  1. The OPO will be notified if the Chief or designee determines that any complaint that meets the definition of an OPO Involved Investigation will not be investigated by IA. If the OPO believes that an investigation should be completed, the OPO shall notify the Chief or designee in writing. The OPO and Chief or designee will discuss the OPO’s request for investigation and attempt to reach an agreement. The Chief will provide a written response to the OPO’s request within fourteen days. If there is no agreement between the Chief or designee and the OPO regarding the investigation, the commission will decide whether the investigation requested by the OPO will be undertaken by IA, as provided in section (E). The decision of the commission will be based upon the OPO’s written request and the Chief’s (or designee’s) written response. After providing IA a reasonable opportunity to undertake the investigation, if the commission determines and specifically describes in writing how IA failed to undertake an investigation consistent with the commission’s decision, the commission may again direct IA to undertake an investigation, or the commission may direct the OPO to conduct an independent investigation into the complaint that meets the definition of an OPO Involved Investigation that the Chief determined would not be investigated by IA. The OPO may request, but not require, participation by police officers in the investigation. The OPO may publish a report of the results of the investigation, so long as the report does not identify specific members of the department and does not in any way comment on officer discipline (or lack thereof). Any released investigation will not identify specific members of the department. The OPO’s investigation and/or report may not be used by the City as a basis to open complaints against any bargaining unit employee(s), including those assigned to IA, or to reconsider any decision(s) previously made concerning discipline. No discipline of bargaining unit employees may result from the OPO investigation.

  2. All disciplinary decisions will be made by the chief (or designee). The OPO shall not have a role in any disciplinary matter.

  3. The OPO will be provided a copy of any letter or other notification to an officer informing the officer of actual discipline imposed as a result of an internal affairs investigation, or any notice of finding in the event that the complaint is not sustained.

  4. The OPO will be notified by IA within five business days of case closure of all OPO Involved Investigations. The OPO, in addition to the department’s written notice of finding letter to the complainant, may send a closing letter to the complainant. The letter may summarize the case findings.

  5. Any complaining party who is not satisfied with the findings of the department concerning their complaint may contact the office of police ombudsman to discuss the matter further. However, unless persuasive and probative new information is provided, the investigation will remain closed. In accordance with established arbitral case law, employees may not be disciplined twice for the same incident. In the event the investigation is re-opened and discipline imposed, the appropriate burden of establishing compliance with this section rests with the City in any subsequent challenge to the discipline.

  6. Once the OPO has made a certification decision and the chief has made a final determination on the case, the OPO shall publish a closing report that summarizes the complaint, the OPO Involved Investigation, and the findings. The closing report will not disclose the names of officers or witnesses. The OPO’s closing report shall not be used in disciplinary proceedings of bargaining unit employees.

  7. In addition to the investigative process, the OPO will have unimpeded access to all complaint and investigative files from OPO Involved Investigations for auditing and reporting purposes. The OPO shall not retain investigative files beyond one year and will return the same to Internal Affairs for safekeeping. At all times and including, without limitation, issuing written reports, the OPO will not release the name(s) of employees or other individuals involved in incidents or investigations nor any other personally identifying information. The OPO may make statistical observations regarding the disciplinary results of sustained internal investigations, but shall not take issue with discipline imposed by the chief of police in specific cases.

  8. The OPO may recommend policies and procedures for the review and/or audit of the complaint resolution process and review and recommend changes in departmental policies to improve the quality of police investigations and practices, including the IA investigation process. The OPO may independently investigate any non-disciplinary matter necessary to enable the OPO to issue policy and procedure recommendations. The OPO may publish a policy and procedure report that identifies the OPO’s recommended policy and procedure changes. The OPO’s recommendations will be related to departmental procedure, policies, training, or related issues. The OPO will not make recommendations concerning discipline for specific cases or officers. If required by law, the City will engage in collective bargaining prior to adopting any such recommendations.

  9. The OPO shall not have access to legally privileged documents held by the city attorney or attorney-client communications held by the city attorney’s clients. The OPO shall not disclose confidential records and shall be subject to the same penalties as the legal custodian of the records for any unlawful or unauthorized disclosure.

  10. The police ombudsman may propose rules and procedures required for the discharge of the police ombudsman’s duties, including policies and procedures for receiving and processing complaints, monitoring investigations, and reporting findings, conclusions and recommendations to the commission. The OPO’s rules and procedures must be consistent with state law and the collective bargaining agreement between the city and police guild. The OPO may not levy any fees for the handling of complaints or any other duties identified in this chapter.

  11. Complaints regarding the chief of police shall be directed to the mayor and investigated by the city’s human resources department. Complaints against the ombudsman shall be directed to and investigated by the commission, with the assistance of the City’s human resources department.

Date Passed: Monday, February 10, 2014

Effective Date: Wednesday, March 26, 2014

ORD C35069 Section 3