The University of Houston Police Department recognizes that its employees are responsible for their conduct where the public is concerned. The department also acknowledges that, at certain times, conflicts between citizens and agency employees can arise. It is essential to the safety of our community that the relationship between police and citizens be built on confidence and trust. Law enforcement cannot be effective without this vital conviction by both parties.
Police Officers must be free to exercise their best judgment and initiate proper action in a reasonable, lawful, impartial manner, without fear of reprisal. At the same time, they must observe the rights of all people. The complaint process and appropriate disciplinary procedures not only subject agency members to corrective action when they conduct themselves improperly, the guidelines also protect them from unwarranted criticism when the discharge their duties properly.
A disagreement over the validity of a criminal charge or traffic citation is NOT a complaint. Such disagreements should be directed to the court that has jurisdiction in the matter.
The University of Houston Police Department realizes that confusion, different perceptions, or the timeliness of information sometimes will result in descriptions that produce different versions of the same incident. Beyond legitimate error, however, the deliberate making of a report that the complainant knows to be false or misleading could constitute a violation of State Law.
Many concerns can be explained satisfactorily by a visit or telephone call to the employee's supervisor. The supervisor will talk with you about your concern and try to resolve it. Citizens who do not wish to resolve their concerns this way are encouraged to make use of our citizen complaint process.
The complaint process is designed to deal with each case factually and fairly. Citizens who file complaints are treated respectfully, and their accusations are taken seriously. All complaints are investigated thoroughly, and all findings are based on impartial evidence gained during the investigation.
The complaint process begins with the completion of an Initial Complaint Notice. This form can be turned in to any on duty supervisor, or directly to the administrator of Internal Affairs.
Texas law (Govt. Code 614.022) requires that complaints against comissioned police officers be filed in writing and signed by the person making the complaint in order to be considered by the agency. However, if a complainant does not wish to put the complaint in writing, it will not necessarily prevent an investigation from being conducted.
After a thorough investigation, the complaint will be classified into one of the following dispositions:
Unfounded: The investigation indicated that the alleged act(s) did not occur.
Exonerated: The investigation reveals that the acts did occur, but the actions taken were justified, lawful and proper.
Not Sustained: The investigation failed to discover sufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the allegation(s) made.
Sustained: The investigation disclosed sufficient evidence to clearly prove some or all of the allegations made in the complaint.
Not Involved: The investigation established that the Department member subject to the complaint was not involved in the alleged incident.
Conduct Not Alleged: The investigation reveals sustained conduct, other than that originally alleged by the complainant, which is a violation of policy or law, or significant enough to require investigation of that conduct.
Policy Review: The investigation reveals that there may be a need to review, modify, and/or generate a policy/procedure.
Sustained allegations could result in additional training, counseling, written reprimand, suspension or termination.
Complainants who have current criminal or traffic charges pending should be aware that the internal review process deals solely with department police matters and the conduct of agency employees. Regardless of the outcome of an internal investigation, existing criminal or traffic charges must be dealt with through the proper courts.
The Chief of Police will make the final determination about the disposition of any complaint.
The University of Houston Police Depatment makes public an Annual summary of Internal Affairs investigations dispositions.