Citizens Commendation or Complaint Procedures
The Hagerstown Department of Police accepts all feedback. Positive feedback will be appropriately recognized and complaints against officers will be thoroughly investigated. As a complainant, you will be treated with courtesy and respect.
Anyone may compliment or make a complaint against a police officer in the following manner:
1. Any of the below:
- Online Form - click here
- by telephone at 301-790-3700
- by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- In person to any police officer of the City of Hagerstown.
2. Provide information so you can be contacted by the assigned investigator. You may be required (1) to give a formal taped statement if your complaint is of a serious nature, or (2) to file your complaint in writing if a taped statement is not feasible.
3. Submit a signed, sworn complaint within 366 days of the alleged offense if the complaint deals with excessive force (brutality). This is required by law and is normally accomplished by way of a notarized document.
4. If a walk-in or telephone complainant wishes to speak to a police officer about the complaint, the senior-ranking officer who is currently available will speak with the complainant.
- If no police officer is available to speak with the complainant, the agency employee who is speaking with the complainant shall offer to accept the complaint.
- If a walk-in or telephone complainant does not wish to speak with a police officer, the complaint shall be accepted by any agency employee.
- Regardless of which agency employee accepts the complaint, (whether police officer or other employee) the employee shall not attempt to influence the complainant in any manner.
5. Complainants will receive an initial response to their complaint within 72 hours.
6. The name, phone number, and email address of a police officer will be provided as the point of contact to whom the complainant may direct their questions regarding the investigation.
7. Until the administrative investigation is resolved, the agency shall attempt to contact the complainant at least monthly to provide an update. Each attempt to contact the complainant will be documented.
8. The agency will notify the complainant of the outcome of the complaint within 72 hours of a disposition, including any discipline imposed in accordance with established confidentiality policies and any applicable law.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT COMPLAINTS & INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS
The investigation of complaints against police officers violating rules or regulations of the Hagerstown Department of Police is an administrative action and is considered a personnel matter by the police department. If the complaint warrants, a criminal investigation may result.
The outcome of your complaint will not alter any criminal matter that you may have pending against you.
Many complaints are settled by explanations, before they reach the stage of a formal investigation. As a matter of policy, your complaint will be settled at the lowest possible level.
Should your complaint go the formal investigative stage and the charges are sustained by the investigator, you and any witnesses on your behalf will be required to testify at Administrative Hearing Boards as the need arises.
You will be notified in writing when formal investigations are complete and the results of the investigative findings.
Under Maryland Law, police officers are covered by the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights. This provides officers under investigation with certain rights. It also establishes guidelines for investigations against officers. All formal investigations are conducted in accordance with this legislation.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT FILING COMPLAINTS
Q. Will complaining on an officer make me the subject of retaliation by him or other officers?
A. No. Department rules prohibit such actions. Officers may be charged departmentally for violating those rules.
Q. Will my complaint be subject to newspaper or other media coverage?
A. Maybe. As personnel matters, complaints are not subject to public review. However, if charges are sustained and the complaint is to go before a hearing board, the officer can request that the hearing be public. If this happens, the media can be present.
Q. Do I need a lawyer to assist me during the complaint process?
A. No. You will be kept informed during any investigation and the investigator assigned should be able to answer your questions and concerns. As a complainant, you are not the person being accused of wrongdoing. However, nothing prohibits you from employing an attorney should you desire to do so.
Q. If an officer is found not guilty, can he/she file suit against me?
A. Yes. Police officers retain the same rights to file suits as any other citizen. Such proceedings would be in a civil court and initiated by the officer--not the Police Department.
Q. Will it cost anything to file a complaint?
A. No. No fees are charged for this service and your participation will be scheduled to minimize inconvenience to you or loss of work time.
If you have any questions please call the Internal Affairs Division of the Hagerstown Department of Police at: 301-790-3700 x 257.