File a Citizen Complaint
A relationship of trust and confidence between members of the Police Department and the community we serve is essential to effective law enforcement. Law enforcement officers must be free to exercise their best judgment and to initiate law enforcement action in a reasonable, lawful and impartial manner. In this regard, enforcers of the law have a special obligation to respect the rights of all persons when conducting such enforcement actions.
The Ventura Police Department acknowledges its responsibility to establish a system of complaint and disciplinary procedure, which not only subjects officers to corrective action when they conduct themselves improperly, but will also protect them from unwarranted criticism when they discharge their duties properly. It is the purpose of these procedures to provide a prompt, just, open and expeditious resolution of complaints regarding the conduct of officers and employees of the Department.
The Ventura Police Department, in compliance with Section 832.5 of the California Penal Code, welcomes from members of the community constructive criticism of the Department and valid complaints against its members or procedures.
Who Can File? Anyone who is directly involved or witnesses an incident from which a complaint arises may file a Citizen’s Complaint. In the case of juveniles it is desirable, but not necessary, that the parent(s) be present. However, it is the Department’s policy to notify the parent(s) of the juvenile whenever a complaint is accepted.
How Can A Complaint Be Filed? A complaint may be filed by personally contacting the Police Department and furnishing complete details of the incident, as well as the names of all witnesses or parties involved. The complainant will be requested to write out the statement in his/her own handwriting and sign the complaint form provided below.
State law requires that the complainant sign this information advisory and submit it with the complainant’s statement. The Police Department cannot accept the complainant’s statement unless it is accompanied by the signed information advisory.
Penal Code 148.6(a)(2): Any law enforcement agency accepting an allegation of misconduct against a peace officer shall require the complainant to read and sign the following information advisory: You have the right to make a complaint against a police officer for any improper police conduct. California law requires this agency to have a procedure to investigate citizens' complaints. You have a right to a written description of this procedure. This agency may find after investigation that there is not enough evidence to warrant action on your complaint; even if that is the case, you have the right to make the complaint and have it investigated if you believe an officer behaved improperly, citizen complaints and any reports or findings relating to complaints must be retained by this agency for at least five years.
Who Will Investigate The Complaint? The officer’s immediate supervisor or the on-duty watch commander will conduct the investigation. In more serious cases, the Chief of Police may assign the complaint investigation to some other appropriate person.
How Thorough Will The Investigation Be? Our objective is to complete a thorough and impartial investigation disclosing the truth. Every effort will be expended to satisfactorily conclude the investigation. This includes referring the complaint to an outside agency, such as the District Attorney’s Office, where necessary.
What Can Happen To The Officer? It the complaint is founded, the discipline ranges from verbal reprimand to dismissal. If the officer’s conduct was criminal in nature, the matter is referred to the District Attorney’s Office.
If Dissatisfied With The Results, What Can Be Done? If you, the complainant, feel that your case has not been thoroughly investigated, and justice has not been served, you may contact your representative on the City Council, the City Manager, or in some cases, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office. You, of course, may seek legal advice from an attorney.