The Police officer in every community is an unmistakable symbol, not only of the law, but of the entire community. Because of this, he/she is the obvious target for grievances against any shortcomings of our governmental system. The police officer can work toward solving the complex problems of a community only when working in concert with the entire community.
Police officers can and must, however, recognize their responsibility to serve all the public to the best of their ability. FAIR AND IMPARTIAL LAW ENFORCEMENT WHICH RESPECTS THE INDIVIDUAL DIGNITY AND RIGHTS OF ALL MEN AND WOMEN IS ESSENTIAL and must be accomplished with tact and diplomacy, whenever possible.
As Police Officers, we must professionally and objectively investigate all citizen complaints as expeditiously and thoroughly as possible. This enables us to arrive at all the facts which will either quickly substantiate the complaint or clear the officer’s name, whichever is appropriate.
The Bowling Green Police Division, by providing some common questions and answers, will address some of your concerns about your complaint.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- 1. WILL I HAVE TO WRITE OUT MY COMPLAINT?
Yes. Normally, for a complaint to be investigated, the complaint must be in writing, signed and dated by the complaining person.
- 2. I'M UNDER 18. DO I HAVE A RIGHT TO COMPLAIN?
Yes. Just bring one of your parents or guardians in with you.
- 3. DOES THAT MEAN THE POLICE DIVISION WANTS COMPLAINTS?
Of course not. A complaint means that someone may not have done a good enough job. But we do want to know when our service needs to be improved or corrected.
- 4. WILL YOU LISTEN TO MY COMPLAINT?
Yes. Either an investigator assigned from the Internal Affairs Unit or the Officer's supervisor (Section, Bureau Commander) will investigate a complaint against an officer.
- 5. WHO SHOULD I GO TO FIRST?
You should take a complaint about an officer to his/her Section or Bureau Com¬mander. If he or she is not available, ask for the on-duty shift supervisor. If the complaint is against a supervisor, contact the Bureau Commander or Office of the Chief of Police.
- 6. I WANT TO TAKE THIS ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP. WILL THE CHIEF OF POLICE KNOW?
He will. The Chief of Police gets copies of all complaints against officers. Each officer is notified as well.
- 7. DO I HAVE TO COMPLAIN IN PERSON?
No, but normally a complaint must be from a known source to be investigated.
- 8. WILL I BE TOLD HOW THE COMPLAINT IS RESOLVED?
Yes. You will receive a letter from the Chief of Police telling you the disposition of our investigation.
- 9. WHAT ABOUT THE LIE DETECTOR?
In certain cases, where we can't determine the truth any other way, you may be asked to take a polygraph examination. The same is true of our officers.
- 10. WHAT IF I'M NOT SATISFIED WITH THE RESULTS OF THIS INVESTIGATION?
We sincerely hope that would never happen. If it does, you can contact the Municipal Administrator, or in some cases, the City Attorney or the Grand Jury.
- 11. HOW THOROUGHLY WILL YOU REALLY INVESTIGATE?
Very thoroughly. We want to find out where we went wrong. If the conduct was lawful and proper, then we want to explain that to the citizen. Additionally, if a person intentionally makes a FALSE complaint, we want to find out and take the appropriate legal action.
- 12. COULD I GET IN TROUBLE FOR COMPLAINING?
Not if what you are telling us is the truth. We are only interested in prosecuting those who make malicious, false allegations about agency personnel. We would not (and could not) bring charges against a person who has acted in good faith.
- 13. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE OFFICER?
That will depend on what he/she did. If the officer's (or other employee's) actions were criminal he/she would be dealt with like any other citizen. If the actions were improper, but not criminal, he/she will be disciplined.
Our goal is that you will never need to use the information contained in this brochure. We don’t want to fail in our continuing efforts to give YOU the best possible police service.
If you have any additional questions, contact the on-duty supervisor at (419) 352-1131.
CITY OF BOWLING GREEN
175 WEST WOOSTER STREET
BOWLING GREEN, OHIO 43402
MEMBERS OF CITY COUNCIL
MICHAEL ASPACHER, PRESIDENT
THERESA CHARTERS GAVARONE
RICHARD A. EDWARDS, MAYOR
LORI J. TRETTER, SAFETY DIRECTOR