The Salem Police Department is committed to providing courteous and effective service to all citizens of Salem. Police department employees are expected to treat every individual with respect, courtesy, and with recognition of individual dignity. If you have a complaint about the Salem Police Department, we want to hear about it. This information sheet describes how you can file a complaint about the actions of a police officer or civilian employee via the Internal Affairs Office and how we will respond to it.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
You may contact the Salem Police Department, located in the Civic Center, 555 Liberty St. SE, Room 130, in person or by telephone, any time of the day or night. Ask to speak to the Internal Affairs Investigator, who is available during regular business hours. At other times, or if the Internal Affairs Investigator is not available, ask for the Shift Commander. If you wish to fill out the complaint form and mail it in, or if you prefer to make contact via email, see the links at the bottom of this page.
Explain the nature of your complaint. You will be asked to provide the following information:
Your name, address and telephone number so that you can be contacted for additional information and notification of the outcome of the investigation.
A description of what happened, including when and where the incident occurred, the name of the officer(s) or employee(s), the names of witnesses, with addresses and telephone numbers if available.
Any other pertinent information about the incident.
The information is essential for the complaint to be properly followed up. Your identity and the nature of your complaint will be shared only with others who have a need to know, including the persons directly involved in the incident, their supervisor(s) and the Chief of Police.
WHAT WILL THE POLICE DEPARTMENT DO?
Every complaint made about the conduct of the Salem Police Department employees is taken very seriously. Every one is reviewed and the employee informed of the nature of the complaint. Sometimes the complaint is a simple misunderstanding that can be easily resolved, and others will require a formal investigation and report.
Salem Police Department employees are held accountable to professional standards included in the department's written policies and procedures; contemporary police training; and federal, state, and local laws.
The internal affairs process cannot address complaints about legal issues, such as whether or not a citation should have been issued or evaluating guilt or innocence in a criminal case. Those are the proper concern of the courts.
Complaints are investigated by either the Internal Affairs Investigator or the supervisor of the employee involved. During the investigation, all persons identified as being directly involved in the incident will be contacted. The officer(s) or other employees involved will be interviewed, as will witnesses and others with relevant information. You may be contacted for additional information during the course of the investigation.
It is the department's goal to complete investigations within 45 days of receiving the complaint. Difficulty obtaining information may extend this time period. There may be problems encountered which cause a delay in completing the investigation, such as difficulty locating witnesses. You may call the Internal Affairs Office at any time to check on the progress of the investigation. Upon completion of the investigation, a report is written describing the complaint and the results of the investigation. One of four findings is possible:
Unfounded-Allegation is false or not factual.
Exonerated-Incident occurred, but was lawful and proper.
Not Sustained-Insufficient evidence either to prove or disprove the allegation.
Sustained-The allegation is supported by sufficient evidence to justify a reasonable conclusion that a violation or misconduct has occurred.
The completed investigation is reviewed by the employee's supervisors and the Chief of Police. Complaints that are sustained may result in disciplinary action. A record of all complaints is maintained and is available for supervisory review of employee performance.
WHAT HAPPENS THEN?
You will receive a letter or telephone call from the Internal Affairs Investigator describing the results of the investigation.
If your complaint involves acts of discrimination by employees, additional assistance is available from the Salem Area Human Rights Commission. The Commission will work to assure that your interests are represented in the Salem Police Department complaint process.
COMMUNITY POLICE REVIEW BOARD
If you are not satisfied with the results of the Salem Police Department investigation, you may contact the Community Police Review Board Liaison in the City Manager's Office, by telephone or in person during regular business hours. The City Manager's office is located in the Civic Center, 555 Liberty Street S.E. Room 220. The phone number is 503-588-6255.
Before a complaint may be made to the Community Police Review Board, you must first have filed your complaint with the Salem Police Department as described in this outline. If the department's results do not satisfy you then you may ask the Board to review the complaint.
Your request must be made within ninety days of the date the Salem Police Department completes its investigation and informs you of the results.
You must sign a release of all information and agree to waive any and all rights you may have regarding the disclosure of this information to the Board.
A hearing date will be scheduled by the Board within 30 days of your request for review. The hearing is open to the public and if you wish, you and up to two witnesses may make statements to the Board.
Deliberations of the Board are held in a closed session. The possible findings are as described previously in this outline.
You will receive notification when the final report is available and may be present at the next Board meeting when the report is presented. No comments are allowed at that time.
Complaints that are sustained may result in disciplinary action.