"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.)