Police Complaints: Pc News

"Unfounded" vs "Not Sustained" (corrected)

At last week’s POC meeting, commissioners reviewed a citizen complaint alleging that an APD officer had behaved rudely. The IRO called the complaint “unfounded” because the preponderance of evidence did not support the claim. Commissioner Siegel suggested a more appropriate finding would be “Not Sustained” but IRO Hammer repeated that “Unfounded” was the correct finding.

We believe that Mr Siegel had the better of that disagreement. In fact, a proper finding might even be “Exonerated”.

Calling a complaint “Unfounded” is only appropriate (Correction: See comments below) when a citizen makes a claim that, even if true, would not be a violation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). For example, a complaint that an officer was chewing gum would be unfounded since there is no SOP (that we know of) that prohibits gum-chewing. In this case, the citizen claimed rudeness, which is a violation of SOP (1-04-1-F), but the evidence disproved the claim.

Therefore, the finding should have been “Exonerated”.

(UPDATE: This story has been corrected. See comments.)

Police Oversight Commissioners demand more details (with meeting video)

The Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission marked an important milestone in September, meeting for the first time in a long time with a full board of nine members. Vacant positions and no-show commissioners have been a problem at the POC for years but three recently appointed commissioners— David Cameron, Jonathan Siegel and, new this month, Richard Shine —have filled the empty chairs.

And how! We wrote last month how Commissioner Jonathan Siegel shook up the board’s typical policy of rubber-stamping police exoneration letters without even reading them. This month, Commissioner Richard Shine sat on the board for the first time and demanded—successfully!—that the Independent Review Officer start producing proper reports that will enable the commissioners to make informed, intelligent decisions.

The meeting included a rather emotional appeal by a citizen who had complained that the police did not provide proper services when he was the victim of a crime. Producing a large amount of testimony and information, the investigators stood by their original evaluation of the case and the commissioners mostly accepted their findings. But if the appeal failed to change anyone’s mind about that particular case, it did open some eyes about serious problems in the oversight process.

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