I saw this on the news this morning.
(CBS) MIAMI Most police officers are a credit to the badge, serving the community and the people who pay their salary, getting criminals off the street, making the community safer for everyone.
But on occasion, a police officer and a member of the public they serve don’t see eye to eye, and the citizen feels a need to complain. In many departments around the country, the process starts out simply: a person just requests a complaint form.
Police departments around the country, like here in Tallahassee, give citizens police complaint forms all the time, no questions asked. But walk into a police station in South Florida, trying to find out how to file a complaint, and watch what happens.
CBS4 News found that, in police departments across Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, large and small, it was virtually impossible to walk in the door, and walk out with a complaint form.
The I-Team conducted an extensive hidden camera test, carried out by a police abuse watchdog group called the Police Complaint Center. Remarkably, of 38 different police stations tested around South Florida, all but three had no police complaint forms.
Florida City P.D. and Homestead P.D. had them, as did the City of Miami, in three languages -- English, Spanish, and Kreole.
“Your job is to explain how you take the complaint and make no judgement, even though you may say, this person looks like they just dropped in from Mars”, said Timoney, “That's not your job.”
Viewing our undercover video, in which representatives of different departments were seen refusing to supply complaint forms, and at times, appearing to belittle or insult the undercover tester for asking (see transcripts below), Timoney said at times the behavior seemed inappropriate for his department’s standards.
“If a supervisor attempted to not take a complaint or cover up a complaint,” said Timoney, “we would investigate that supervisor. I guarantee you, the discipline would be severe, if a supervisor didn't take the report.”
In the I-team’s undercover investigation, there was one incident in which our tester went in to file a complaint. After several times asking for a form, being told "you're not leaving without a form," he was asked to leave and actually walked off the property, to the point where the officer reached for his gun, put his hand on his gun and said, "Take a step closer, and see what happens.".
Miami Chief Timoney was surprised at that response. ”I hope it wasn't my police officer. That's very serious. I'd treat it very serious.”
In the end, Timoney says cops intimidating citizens alone is bad enough. What's worse is cops denying citiizens the very forms on which they need to complain about such behavior. Citizen complaint forms that create a paper trail, so that complaints can't possibly be ignored.
And even worse than that, says Timoney, is when a police department itself doesn't have a complaint form policy to begin with. And that, he says, when you consider the many other departments in the country that do, is not right and not good for the image of South Florida law enforcement.
“Anytime you don't get police departments or other institutions to do what's right”, said Timoney, ”if the agency is not doing it properly, fire the chief. If I'm not doing it properly, fire me”
These are transcripts of conversations between police officers at the departments named and our tester:
tester: Yeah, I wanted to find out how to file a complaint against an officer. I just want to find out how you do it. Do you guys have a form or something that I could take with me.
officer: Well, you got to tell me first, and then I got to hear what's going on. You've got to tell me what the complaint is.
tester: Do you have a complaint form that I can, like, fill out or something like that?
officer: Might not be a legitimate complaint.
tester: Who decides that?
officer: I'm trying to help you.
tester: Like, if there's a form, why can't I just take it and leave, right?
officer: No, you don't leave with forms. You tell me what happened, and then I help you from there. Do you have I-D on?
officer: You know what? You need to leave.
officer: I'm going to tell you one more time, because I can't do this anymore with you, okay. You're refusing to tell me what you want to do, okay. You're refusing to tell me who's involved, where it happened, what transpired. You'e not cooperating iwth me one bit.
tester: I was just asking if you guys have a complaint form, like if there's some way for me --
officer: Out of my way.
tester: To contact Internal Affairs.
officer: You can do whatever the hell you want. It's a free country.
man" You're cursing at me.
officer: Where do you live? Where do you live? You have to tell me where you live, what your name is, or anything like that.
tester: For a complaint? I mean, like, if I have --
officer: Are you on medications?
tester: Why would you ask me something like that?
officer: Because you're not answering any of my questions.
tester: Am I on medications?
officer: I asked you. It's a free country. I can ask you that.
tester: Okay, you're right.
officer: So you're not going to tell me who you are, you're not going to tell me what the problem is.You're not going to identify yourself.
tester: All I asked you was, like, how do I contact --
officer: You said you have a complaint. You say my officers are acting in an inappropriate manner.
officer: So leave now. Leave now. Leave now.
tester: I'm not doing anything wrong.
officer: Neither am I. It's a free country.
officer: I'm not in your face. I'm standing on the sidewalk. It's a free country. One more step forward, and you'll see what happens. Take one more step forward.)
(Miami-Dade PD Midwest Station
man" Yeah, I'm trying to find out how to file a complaint against an officer.
officer: What station does he work at?
tester: I'm ont saying he works at this facility. I'm trying to file --
officer: My question is where does he work at? He works here at this district? Just try to answer my question. I think you think this is a big conspiracy.
tester: I want to find out how you file a complaint. That's what I'm asking.
officer: If you think you can walk in here and go straight to the director of Metro Dade Police without telling me any details, you can't do it. And I -- for some reason, you think that, I don't know why. You think it's a big conspiracy, that we're going to hide some information about what happened to you, I don't know. Is it a traffic ticket? Is it something, you know, (?) complaint. That he stole your lunch money, did he steal your money, did he have sex with your wife, what?)
(Hialeah Gardens PD
tester: I want to know, how can I go about filing a complaint against a police officer?
officer: Where did the incident happen? What street?
tester: Sir, I --
officer: I'm here to hear the complaint. I'm going to take the complaint, so you've got to speak to me so that we can discuss this and see what we can do. Speak to me about it. When did this happne?
tester: Sir --
officer: Leave. Leave.
tester: So you're not going to take my complaint?
officer: Yes, I'm trying to! ANswer my questions!
tester: I don't really want to discuss it. I have --
officer: I'm going to investigate it!
tester: Is there any other way I can go about it?
officer: Do you have psychological problems or what?)
(South Miami PD
tester: I'm trying to find out how to file a complaint against a police officer. Is there a complaint form or something like that?
officer: It don't work that way.
tester: You said there's not a complaint form that I can just -- there's nothing I can just get and take and fill out?
officer: That ain't hte way it works.)
officer: What can I do for you?
tester: I'm trying to find out how to file a complaint against an officer.
officer: Which officer would that be?
tester: Um, I mean, I just want to find out how to do it right now. That's what I want.
officer: You would talk to me.
tester: So there's not, like, a form or something? That's the only way to do it.
(Hallandale Beach PD
tester: I want to know how to file a complaint against an officer.
officer: If you want to file a complaint, I need to know what officer, so I know what sergeant to send you to.
tester: Do you have a complaint form or something?
officer: No, you'll have to talk to a sergeant.)
(Sunny Isles PD
tester: Yeah, I'm trying to find out how to file a complaint against an officer? Have you got a complaint form?
officer: No, you have to talk to a sergeant.)
(Miami Springs PD
tester: Okay, so like, there's not a form or something?
(Miami Beach PD
tester: Okay, there's not, like, a form or anything like that I can take?
(Pembroke Pines PD
tester: I'm just trying to find out how to file a complaint against an officer.
officer: You need to talk to the supervisor, up the hall.
tester: Is there a form around here I can take?
(Coral Gables PD
tester: You don't have a complaint form or anything like that?
officer: A what?
tester: A complaint form.
officer: You have to go through a sergeant first.
tester: So that's the only way to do it, to sit down with a sergeant?
officer: That's the only way.
tester: Not a form? No form to give me?
officer: No, we don't have a generic form.
tester: No generic form?
(City of Pinecrest PD
tester: How do I file a complaint against an officer?
officer: Um --
tester: Is there a form or something?
officer: A form? No, there's no form.)
(Wilton Manors PD
tester: You don't have a brochure that I can leave?
officer: There's no form, there's no brochure, there's nothing like that.)
(Sea Ranch PD
cop; We don't give you -- we don't give you a form. Where do you live?
tester: I don't want to say.
officer: You don't want to say?
tester: Where are you going?
officer: You want to play hardball? We'll play hardball. I want ID.
tester: For what?
officer: I'm asking you for ID right now, that's why. Here, hand it to me. Hand it to me.
tester: Are you kidding me? Here.
officer: I said, hand me your ID. What are you doing here? This is --
tester: I came to ask you how to file a complaint.
officer: This is very suspicious.
tester: Asking how to file a complaint is suspicious?
officer: Why don't you shut up?
officer: I say this is very suspicious, that you pull in here at this time of night --
tester: Eight o'clock?
officer: You're constantly butting in.
tester: I'm constantly butting in?
Mike: Sir, I would like to leave.
officer: I would love it, but he's got your driver's license, so you're just going to have to stay.
Mike: Sir, are you detaining us?
officer: Okay, could I give you a ticket right now for improper backing.
Mike: You can do whatever you want, I suppose.
officer: Okay, that means yes, I guess you're saying, right? ANd for backing up, correct, yes?
Mike: I was backing up, sir, because I was leaving.
officer: But because I'm a nice guy, okay, I'm going to give you a warning. Is that fair?
Mike: Yes, sir.
(Broward sheriff North Lauderdale
tester: There's no way, like, to just write it down or something like --
officer: Well, first, why don't you tell me what happened, and I'll tell you if somebody did something wrong to you.
Tester: I feel like I know when somebody did something wrong, I mean, like, you know --
officer: Maybe not. Some people don't. Some people think we're not allowed to do certain things, and we are. Sometimes, you know, some guys take it overboard, and they're not allowed to do that.
officer: I don't know what happened.
tester: Right, right. Yeah, I mean, I don't want to talk --
officer: I tried to help you, but obvously you've got issues.
tester: I don't have issues, man.)
I'd like to see that program.
I love living here in Miami, to serve and protect yourself! Thats the rule here!
There is always a lot of talk about cop-bashing, and then anti-bashing.
I think it is simple human nature. Man is going to abuse authority as a general rule.
A government agency that lacks a form for something........
Here, the compliant is usually fielded first by the officer's direct supervisor and consists of an oral interview with the person complaining. If the person persists in wanting to file a formal complaint, we have an automated complaint system that the supervisor completes. There are no hard copies that I'm aware of for the public to use here.
Also, if a poerson wants, they can just contact Internal Affairs and those guys are more than h appy to launch an investigation on us..
I saw that last night on tv, absolutely amazing.
It is so nice to read about public employees treating their employers so nicely.
Hell, if someone walked in asking for a complaint form, I'd be asking some questions too.
In before the ______________________________________
Right, because every citizen is assumed to be a criminal, and the laws meant to keep the peasants in line don't apply to officers.
No, because like every officer on the planet I'd be wondering why some jackass with a video camera is demanding that I give him something that everyone knows does not exist.
I've never even HEARD of a hardcopy "complaint form"
But hey, if silly statements such as your gives you a woody, go for it.
You're too late.
Some of that commentary sounds like what is often posted here in the typical cop bashing v. police apologist threads.
Wow. That first one was surreal.
Got any ID?
Where do you live?
If the guy really had a legitimate complaint of police corruption, why would he give his name and address?
Here in Texas, if you have a line on police corruption, you can make an anonymous call to the Rangers and they'll investigate it.
I guess that my Dept would be stuck also. The only thing that a complainant gets at my Dept is the chance to talk to a real person instead of a non-existant form.
-Yea, but are you supposed to?.....
Seems like this nearly-the-same-thing happened elsewhere a few years back (in the US). If I am remembering right--the city ordinance in that situation specifically said that you could ask for a complaint form and did not have to answer any of the desk officer's questions at all--and you did not need to show any ID. The complaint form could be mailed in, directly to the department that did the investigations. And to cut down on department complaints--the guy at that desk was (more or less) hassling people who asked and refusing to give them the form.
That time around, it was mostly black people who were hassled and refused the forms--and they told the newspaper, who did their own investigation and got the same treatment.
Complaint yes, anonymous no.
I meant to the people you're complaining about.
Awful quick to raise the flag there...
I doubt many agencies have complaint forms. We don't. You can write a letter and direct it anywhere in the agency, and it is supposed to be routed to internal affairs, but if you walk in, you have to talk to the duty agent and tell him your complaint. If they walked in with a video camera and asked for a complaint form, we couldn't give them one either, because it doesn''t exists. IF they continued to ask for one, and refused to provide the duty agent with their information, anyone would eventually start to lose patience with them.
Also, anybody want to guess how many transcripts they had to throw away because the police were not abusive? And, it is pretty misleading to beat up Timoney over that, because only one of those transcripts involves his department. Also, a lot of those departments, like Sunny Isles PD, is a tiny department with a very small force. They are not going to have an officer whose only job is to sit around all day in case someone wants to complain, you have to talk to the same guy you would talk to if you want to file any kind of report.
But, in the end, the group that writes this kind of report knows who its target audience is, and knows that they are not going to be asked any hard questions by them about how they gathered these tapes.
Most departmets (like my own) treat a citizens complaint just like it was a normal call.
So there is no "citizen's complaint form", instead a supervisor shows up, interviews them and takes a report. It then gets sent to IA and they take it from there.
From the transcript, it seems like the "reporters" were asking for forms to make anonymoys complaints. I would have told them to go pound sand too.
This is stupid. I don't know anyone that thinks they can walk into the police station and complain without being arrested. They can make a big deal out of the lack of a complaint form, but there's not much point in having one if no one wants to deal with the consequences of complaining.
We did not have a "complaint form". You would come in and complain. We would then fill out an Incedent Report and attach it to witness statement written out by the complaintaint.
Then about week later after we compared the complaint to the officers written statement and review a tape recording of the incident. We would present this to a magistrate. get a warrant and arrest the complaintaint when it was found out they were lying.
Thin blue line my A$$ in each of the Departments I worked for you had to talk to a supervisor. If the complaint was in reference to a crime it was turned over to a Detective and the DA....if the complaint was abusive lanuguage or similar it was taken seriously.....in other words the Officer was always assumed to be guilty and was at the very least written up at the worst asked to quit....with no other evidnce other than the complaint....
When you complain at a resturant do you ask for a form or a supervisor....when you complain anywhere else do you ask for a form or a person with firing power over the said employee....
Yup double standard......
I was only commenting that your initial statement wasn't factual as posted.
They listed 15 of them! How many more would they have to list for you to not call them liars?z
good thing we don't live in a police state.......................
First of all...it's Creole.
Second of all...Why is it a big deal if you want to complain against the police? I'm not a cop hater but I think if you need to contact them, you should and not get the run around.
There's always a double standard here when it comes to LEO's.
Wow . That Kind of shit would never fly here .
A) It was a undercover investigation so I hardly doubt they rolled up with a video camera and mic
B) As a street beat cop it is absolutely none of your business as to the nature of the complaint, it's your job to point that person in the right direction, that is all.
C) Funny how these cops reacted to the test subject, "Give me your ID" "I could ticket you right now" "Are you on medications?" Thin blue line anyone?
Last I knew you were a cop in Texas, are you sure you don't work in South Miami?
They did the same thing on the news here last year.
IIRC every department had some kind of form.
90% of them handed out the form as easy as they'd tell you what time it was. Some even showed how to fill out the form and asked the person if they had any questions. In and out, no hassles.
About 10% hassled the person when they asked nothing more than "Do you have a form I can fill out to complain about a police officer?" The guys at the desk in their cases acted like it was their job to question / badger (depending on the officer) the person who asked for the form, instead of just handing it out and letting the people who handle complaints actually handle the complaint.
How they handled the request for the form pretty much matched the previous impression of how professional the local departments were.
I hate those do-gooder "gotcha" reporters! If you have something to complain about and it's THAT serious, I'm sure you could contact your state representative and take it from there.
If there's a simple form that anybody can just walk in, take one, and fill out a complaint anonomously, there will be too many false accusations being thrown around.
Think about it: Five different drug dealers could conspire to get a cop fired by getting their story straight and filing complaints against an officer that was giving them trouble.
Hey, I didn't know Bama Shooter was in Florida !!! That's his standard line.
Why give anyone a hard time if they just want a form? Its the attitude.
Because most either don't take their meds or they need to be on meds.
Attitude works from the other side as well. Being rudely pestered for something that does not exist would set off just about any one. (Hell, posters on here want to shoot people picking thru their garbage) Since their INTENT is to show pissed off folks, (Remember who these guys are.) I'm quite sure they weren't all bunnies and snowflakes.
i keep on hearing people say "...anyone would get pissed if someone kept on asking for a non-existant form..."
doesn't the above quotation from the article imply that the forms do indeed exist?
As is so often posted in these discussions, you have absolutely NO PROOF of the item in red. But make sure you throw it out there to stain the witness.
Proof, schmoof! Don't need it on this thread!
It's likely the same guy who is doing with tv news shows around the country. All I saw him do was go in and politely ask for the form. The only anger came from the cops (or civillians) at the desk who didn't think they should have to hand out the forms.
Hmm. That is very suspicious, isn't it?
No, that only applies to some of the posters on here that have a "serf" mentality. Questions are asked to see what the nature of the complaint is and to possible provide an answer before everyone's time is wasted on a BS investigation.
I think the problem was that he didn't have the proper form to request a form...
Same here. But our sergeants and lieutenants know better than to be giving people shit for wanting to complain too.
Tabloid reporting sucks.
That said, the polite response would be:
"Sir, we don't have complaint forms. Simply write a letter, detailing the problem, addressed to
567 Main Street
Miami, FL X0X0X
and they will handle your problem."
Etiquette. The WD40 of society.
I've been through the process of filing a complaint against a LEO, it was not pleasant in the least and I was made to feel like I was some kind of criminal by just wanting to file the complaint. Then of course the harassment afterward, the POS cop that I complained against stalked me, always driving by my house, following me, obviously someone tipped him off. It ended badly for the cop but it left a very bad impression on me about cops (and the blue line) in general which will never go away.