Office of Professional Standards
Public confidence in the Erie Police Department is vital to the continued accomplishment of the Department’s mission. Both reality and perception play a vital role in maintaining the public trust. The public needs to know and be reassured that we can be relied on to investigate our own officers, correct deficiencies, and discipline when necessary.
The Erie Police Department will thoroughly and expeditiously investigate all complaints from citizens, fellow officers, and administrators against Department employees who are alleged to have violated criminal law, or violations of the Policy and Procedures Manual.
Internal affairs investigations are conducted with the authority of the Chief of Police. All complaints are considered serious and will be investigated by the Office of Professional Standards. An administrative investigation shall occur whenever it is alleged that an employee’s conduct or behavior violates any Department policy, procedure, rule or regulation.
- WHAT DOES THE OFFICE OF PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS (OPS) DO?
Is a liaison between the City Solicitors Office and the Police Department
Investigates allegations against police officers and department employees.
Maintains an index of all complaints.
Conducts internal audits: Drug Unit and Property/Evidence Division.
Performs background investigations on police officer candidates, city employees, crossing guards and others.
- HOW DOES SOMEONE MAKE A COMPLAINT?
At the police station front counter, ask for the Officer in Charge (OIC) or an investigator from the OPS (when available). Once there you can speak with a supervisor, if you wish, about your complaint. If you are not satisfied with this or you feel you don’t want to talk to anyone about it at the time, you can ask for a Citizen Complaint form. One will be given to you. Take the complaint form home and write your complaint, have it notarized and return it to the police station.
The complaint will be forwarded to the O.P.S. and assigned to an investigator. You will be contacted. The investigator will talk with you. You will be treated courteously. There is no need to fear intimidation or any other improper behavior. You will be heard and your complaint will be taken seriously.
State only the facts. There is no need to embellish the facts. You will be asked specific questions about the incident or complaint.
- TO WHO DOES THE O.P.S. REPORT?
The O.P.S. reports directly to the Chief of Police.
- WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I MAKE A COMPLAINT?
The O.P.S. will investigate the complaint and make a recommendation to the Chief of Police.
- IS SOMETHING DONE ON ALL COMPLAINTS?
Yes. All complaints are thoroughly examined and investigations are documented.
- WHAT RIGHTS DO POLICE OFFICERS HAVE WHEN A COMPLAINT IS MADE AGAINST THEM?
Officers are protected by the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights and their labor agreement, which provide that they shall not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats from supervisors, or unreasonable periods of interrogation. They have a right to counsel or union representation during the investigation
- IS THERE ANY RISK TO ME WHEN I MAKE A COMPLAINT AGAINST A POLICE OFFICER?
No. Be advised if you deliberately make a false complaint against an officer, in that case, you may be prosecuted criminally and/or be held civilly liable.
- WILL THE POLICE REALLY BE IMPARTIAL WHEN THEY INVESTIGATE THEIR OWN OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES?
Yes. This question goes right to the heart of what professional policing is all about. We strive to ensure quality performance from our officers who represent the police department and the city.
We want the public to know that we do not tolerate officer misconduct. Any intolerance or perceived intolerance leads to a breakdown of public trust, which adversely affects the ability of the police department.
- DOES THE ERIE POLICE DEPARTMENT GET MANY COMPLAINTS ABOUT ITS POLICE OFFICERS?
No. Our Officers answer roughly 60,000 calls a year and makes thousands of citizen contacts. Less than one-half of one percent result in complaints regarding the employee’s conduct or performance.