How do I file a Citizen's Complaint?
Citizen Complaint Procedure
The Kings County Probation Department’s Citizen Complaint procedure helps you, the community and the Probation Department as well.
If you have a concern about the practices or personnel of the Kings County Probation Department, what can you do about it? The Kings County Probation Department Internal Affairs Section investigates citizen complaints regarding probation department personnel or policies. A positive relationship between the Kings County Probation Department and the public they serve, fostered by confidence and trust is essential to effective law enforcement. While our probation officers are charged with vigorous enforcement of the law, they must meticulously observe the rights of all people, observe the law they are sworn to uphold, and follow the policies as set forth by the Department. Citizens, at the same time, must be free to express their concerns and submit complaints, without fear of reprisal.
It is important, therefore, that adequate provisions be made for the prompt receipt, investigation and disposition of complaints regarding the conduct of probation personnel. To this end, the Kings County Probation Department welcomes honest criticism of the department and valid complaints against its members or procedures. The purpose of the Internal Affairs Section is to ensure complete, fair, and impartial investigations of citizen complaints.
HOW TO MAKE A COMPLAINT
The first step is to call, write, e-mail or come in person to:
You may phone Internal Affairs at (559) 852-4333 during normal business hours.
The person receiving your concern will ask you to provide as much information as possible regarding the incident. If you were involved in or witnessed the incident, it is extremely important to the investigation that a statement is obtained from you. You can also provide a written statement; however, it must be submitted to the Kings County Probation Department within ten days to be considered in the investigation.
Depending on the circumstances of your concern, it may be investigated in one of two ways. It will either be forwarded to the member's supervisor for inquiry or to the Internal Affairs Section for investigation. Each allegation is examined on its own merits. Formal investigations require investigators to contact all available witnesses, including other officers, examine any relevant physical evidence and gather all information pertinent to each allegation made in the complaint.
The Chief Probation Officer will validate the finding in each case. There are five possible findings/resolutions:
Sustained: The investigation disclosed enough evidence to clearly prove the allegation.
A fifth resolution is when the citizen requests his/her complaint be withdrawn. This request to withdraw the complaint is often made after the citizen speaks with a Probation Department representative. There are times when a Citizen Complaint is made due to a citizen not understanding Departmental policies and procedures. At times, after policies and procedures are explained to the citizen, the citizen better understands the reason for the conduct of department personnel, and withdraws their complaint.
You will be notified of the finding in writing at the conclusion. When a finding of "Sustained" is determined, corrective action will be taken. The types of corrective action imposed are subject to the provisions of the laws of the State of California and are deemed confidential. Disciplinary action may include counseling, training, and action up to and including termination. If your complaint is sustained and punitive discipline is imposed, the employee has appeal rights. Therefore, you may be required to testify at one or more disciplinary appeal hearings conducted by the County.
Your valid concerns and criticisms help us protect the community from possible misconduct by employees. At the same time, a thorough and impartial investigation procedure helps protect employees from unwarranted charges when they perform their duties properly.
Per California Penal Code Section 832.5 (a): "Each department or agency in this State which employs peace officers shall establish a procedure to investigate citizens' complaints against the personnel of such departments or agencies, and shall make a written description of the procedure available to the public.
Penal Code Section 148.6 (b) states that any law enforcement agency accepting a concern of misconduct against a peace officer shall require the complainant to read and sign the following information advisory:
"You have the right to make a complaint against probation personnel for any improper conduct. California law requires this agency to have a procedure to investigate citizens' complaints. You have a right to a written description of this procedure. This agency may find after investigation that there is not enough evidence to warrant action on your complaint; even if that is the case, you have the right to make the complaint and have it investigated if you believe an officer behaved improperly. Citizen Complaints must be retained by this agency for at least five years."
The men and women of the Kings County Probation Department take their responsibilities very seriously. We understand that public respect and trust is earned each and every day.
Kelly M. Zuniga