The Tacoma Police Department strives to promote a high level of confidence within our community and maintain the professional integrity of the Department. It is our policy to vigorously investigate and review all instances of alleged misconduct against our employees. All investigations are conducted in a fair and efficient manner in accordance with Department, City, State, federal regulations, and collective bargaining agreements.
Protection of the Public
The public has the right to fair, efficient and impartial law enforcement. Any misconduct by Department personnel must first be detected, then thoroughly investigated and finally, properly adjudicated to assure the maintenance of these qualities.
Protection of the Department
The Department is often evaluated and judged by the conduct of its individual employees. An informed public must have confidence that its police department honestly and fairly investigates and adjudicates all allegations of misconduct against its employees.
Protection of the Employees
Employees must be protected against false and misinformed allegations of misconduct. This can only be accomplished through a consistently thorough investigative process.
Understanding the Complaint Process
What is a Complaint?
A complaint is any communication, verbal or written, conveying dissatisfaction with the performance or conduct of the Department or one or more of its members. A complaint could also be allegations of unlawful acts by one or more members of the Department.
Who May Complain?
Any person, regardless of age, sex or nationality who witnesses or has direct knowledge of police misconduct or unlawful behavior may file a complaint with the Tacoma Police Department.
The Tacoma Police Department views all citizen complaints against its employees seriously. For this reason, complaints must be based on fact. Intentional false reporting in an attempt to unjustly subject a police employee to undeserved discipline or slander, or to place his/her employment in jeopardy, could result in criminal charges being filed and/or a civil suit by the employee involved.
How Do I File A Complaint?
Complaints may be filed in person, by US mail, or by email.
Internal Affairs Section
3701 S. Pine Street
Tacoma, WA 98409
24-hour recorded line: (253) 591-5283
Communications Center: (253) 798-4722
Please be as detailed as possible when sending an email complaint. Anonymous complaints will be accepted; however, our ability to thoroughly investigate the complaint will be limited in those cases without evidence to substantiate the complaint.
The Investigative Process
Once your complaint is filed, the investigation will begin. Witnesses will be contacted and pertinent information will be gathered. The employee in question may be interviewed, the investigation will be reviewed by administrative personnel, and a decision made as to the disposition. You will receive notification of the investigation’s outcome. If you have questions about the results, there will be a listing of staff that can be contacted at the bottom of the notification. Your cooperation in all of these elements is very important to a successful and proper investigation.
Types of Complaints
Inquiries - Inquiries can be handled by any supervisor within the Department. Usually, an inquiry is a question involving the actions of an employee. If the question can be satisfactorily answered by the supervisor, the inquiry is noted into a log. These types of investigations can be resolved immediately.
Bureau Level Complaints - Most complaints will be handled at the bureau level. This means the officer's supervisor will complete the investigation and make recommendations to the bureau commander. Retraining, counseling and reprimands could result if the complaint is sustained. Bureau level complaints are usually completed within 30 days, but depending on the complexity of the complaint, could take longer.
IA Complaints - Complaints of a more serious nature will be investigated by Internal Affairs. Suspension, demotion and/or termination of the employee could result if the complaint is sustained.
Criminal Complaints - Criminal complaints will be investigated by Criminal Investigative Unit detectives, or an outside law enforcement agency, as well as a parallel investigation being conducted by Internal Affairs. Because these complaints involve legal processes, the length of time to compete them is difficult to predict.
Sustained - The investigation revealed the employee acted improperly with respect to the Department policy.
Not Sustained - The investigation is unable to substantiate whether or not misconduct or violation of policy or procedures occurred.
Unfounded - The investigation revealed that the facts or actions alleged did not occur.
Exonerated - The investigation revealed that the facts or actions alleged were substantially correct; however, the conduct of the Officer was proper given the circumstances.