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View Full Version : False Officer Complaint = False Police Report?



GCPD1258
01-18-2004, 11:10 PM
Quick question that has been stirring in my mind.

I had an officer complaint filed against me a few months back that was an out-and-out lie. Short version is: Offender on T-Stop calls into PD to say I "threatened her" and told her she would be "sorry if she fought the ticket in court." Of couse, my digital recorder told a completly different story, because I was nothing but polite and professional and said nothing even REMOTELY similar.

As required, my supervisors investigated it and exposed it for the complete and total lie it was.

Now, even something like this requires police time and resources. What is the difference between this an filing a false police report?

Are there precedents around the country for charging people with this? How is the statute written?

We all get complaints no matter what we do. Nothing will change that, but I was thinking about this, and wondered what is happening in other parts of the country.

Thanks in advance.

"Two rules to a gunfight: 1) Have a gun. 2) Bring all your friends that have guns."

Cptwolf127
01-18-2004, 11:16 PM
Nothing in my jursdiction covering this, but nationally officers have been filing civil suits for stuff like this. You may wish to check with NIJ for stats.

GCPD1258
01-18-2004, 11:24 PM
Thanks.

I am aware of the civil suits. I know that is a pain. I would do it if it was something really serious that could potentially damage my credibility (such as making the news or papers), but not for the typical, ridiculous stuff that usually comes in.

You know, the stupid ones that allege you said or did something that is so obviously false. They still generate an administrative police report. That is still a false report, right?

kirch
01-19-2004, 12:39 AM
I've heard of some departments choosing not to file charges against these people because they don't want to scare away legitimate complaints. To me, I think all you need to do is start charging the most blatantly false with solid evidence of the untruth (digital recorder, dash cam, etc.) and many of those frivolous complainants would think twice before filing a report. But the serious ones would still come forward. In fact, if they know their incident is recorded, it could very well help their case out.

GCPD1258
01-19-2004, 12:47 AM
I think that is fair enough. In that case, I think it is up to the officer/department to use some discretion about who they file charges against, in order to prevent discouraging legitimate complaints.

If it is simply a matter of misinterpretation, or misunderstanding, then no, they should not be charged. I suppose I should qualify the whole statement my saying that the ones that are obviously malicious and false.

IPDBrad
01-19-2004, 11:40 AM
I have heard of civil suits against those who make false complaints. However, to actually win one, I would imagine you would need some quantifiable damages. If you had to hire a lawyer, missed work, were suspended without pay, etc....then you might have a case.

GCPD1258
01-19-2004, 11:48 AM
You're right.

It would be tought to show that you were damaged, but in an extreme case, I think you could do it. It would be subjective, for sure, but you could do it. Of course, that is worst-case-scenario. The main reason I posted this was to see how the typical dumb ones we all get are handled at various agencies.

IPDBrad
01-19-2004, 11:59 AM
Originally posted by GCPD1258
You're right.

It would be tought to show that you were damaged, but in an extreme case, I think you could do it. It would be subjective, for sure, but you could do it. Of course, that is worst-case-scenario. The main reason I posted this was to see how the typical dumb ones we all get are handled at various agencies.

Depends on the accusation filed in the complaint and where it is filed.

Anyone can go down to our Citizens Police Complaint Board or to Internal Affairs and file a complaint. They will do an initial invest and then a more thorough one if needed. Findings will be unfounded, substantiated, unsubstantiated; however, it can be sent back to the district supervisor to be handled.

If the complaint is made on the street or on the district level, a supervisor will either handle it in house or if it is more serious, will send it up to IA.

GCPD1258
01-19-2004, 12:08 PM
Pretty much same here.

But, doesn't that qualify as a police investigation? It seems to me they investigate this stuff as much as any crime. When they are genuinely false, doesn't that constitiute filing a false police report? I'd love to see a statute were we could charge some of these idiots with something.

ksphatcop
01-19-2004, 02:10 PM
Not sure about where you are but here in kansas if the complaintant wrote a notarized statement they "can" be charged with Making a False Writing.

And TG for those digital recorders. They can save your a** sometimes.

http://www.kslegislature.org
KSA 21-3711

GCPD1258
01-19-2004, 02:25 PM
Now, that is an idea! If the dept required the complaints to be in writing and notorized (some of the records personnel are notaries), I'm sure we would have some grounds to charge someone with filing a false document.

If nothing else, you could have a disclaimer on the complaint form signifying that falsifying and statements made would constitute a criminal offense. I bet that would discourage 99% of them right there, when they find out the would be looking at charges if they lie.

Thanks a bunch.

Sgt. Mikey
01-19-2004, 05:24 PM
This might help ....

Idaho Statutes TITLE 18
CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS
CHAPTER 54
PERJURY AND SUBORNATION OF PERJURY
18-5413. PROVIDING FALSE INFORMATION TO LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS,
GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, OR SPECIFIED PROFESSIONALS. (1) A person is guilty of a
misdemeanor if he knowingly gives or causes to be given false information to
any law enforcement officer, any state or local government agency or
personnel, or to any person licensed in this state to practice social work,
psychology or counseling, concerning the commission of an offense, knowing
that the offense did not occur or knowing that he has no information relating
to the offense or danger.

swatpup
01-19-2004, 05:58 PM
I think it would have to involve criminal charges to qualify for making a false police report, such as yours by you supposingly making threats. In CA, we would call that PC 422 - Criminal threats of violence. (It used to be called terrorist threats, but I think they changed it because they realized how dumb the "terrorist" part sounded.

But if someone complains becuase you told them "have a nice day jerk-off", which may or may not be criminal where you work, you may not have a basis for a false police report. Reason being, I think that most non-criminal IA materials (at least here) are not offical police documents (ie police reports) that can be accessed by anyone, but are rather internal documents.

If this lady is full of ****, and she sounds like she is, I would charge her. There are too many like her these days. Send a message to people who want to complain to only get you in trouble.

GCPD1258
01-19-2004, 05:59 PM
Yep, very aware of this code. It is mainly used when someone gives you the name Joe Smith and a DOB of 01/01/01, and comes back with no record, even though he is totally sleeved out with prison tats, and you find out his real name.

I don't know of any precedent to use it in this capacity. It would seem to fit, but I don't know if it has ever been tried.

JBradDavis
01-20-2004, 02:41 AM
Charge her pathetic piece of sh*t *****. Take no plea's either.

-JBD

HGN
01-20-2004, 04:20 AM
I had this done to me...while working for a department that wasn't the most professional. (I'm being kind) Since the complainant's brother was the supervisor's pal, it turned into a three ring circus. I was assaulted by the complainant without provocation, but was not permitted to bring charges against this person. Yet while I had to endure a very lengthy internal investigation where I was made to feel that I was the criminal in this incident...the true assailant walked free.
Almost two years to the day, the complainant files a federal lawsuit against me and the department. Having had enough, I obtained my own counsel and counter-sued for assualt.
The case was heard in front of a jury and lasted a week. The jury dismissed the complainant's case and found her guilty of assault. The looks on the faces of those administrators that pushed that IA investigation and made my life a living hell because their pal couldn't control his family member, not to mention the way they sneered when they said that this person would never be found guilty of assualt was priceless.

***I think that every complainant should be made to file a written complaint about an officer's conduct. On that form it should state clearly that false statements will be vigorously prosecuted.

KCSOZ20
01-20-2004, 05:10 AM
In my agency at the bottom of the civilian complaint form states, in short that if the complaint is found to be malicious or false the Deputy has the right to seek civil restitution!

The only problem is, the majority of *****bags we deal with are just that and don't have a pot to p!ss in or a window to throw it out of!

This leaves us with the false reporting statute which the Prosecutor will not follow up on!

I do know of a case in Washington where a WSP Trooper had a complaint filed against him by a dentist. The complaint was unfounded and the dentist, in his own words, stated "I can say and state whatever I want against a public servant because he is just that, a public servant". Cost him $5,000.00 in punitive damages in favor of the Trooper.

Ken

GCPD1258
01-20-2004, 11:47 AM
Well, guys after reading your stories, I feel luckier and luckier. I'm sure my day will come, though. There are enough nuts out there.

HGN, please tell me you aren't working for that outfit anymore...

Curt581
01-20-2004, 07:20 PM
My Department's citizen complaint form has a paragraph at the bottom advising the complaintant that filing a false complaint is a criminal misdemeanor.

Despite hundreds of false, unfounded, and unsubstantiated complaints since the form was implemented, NOT ONE person has been charged.

GCPD1258
01-20-2004, 07:25 PM
Now, why doesn't that surprise me they aren't charged for it?

I kinda figured the ability to charge someone and the logisitcs of it were different.

Is that an admin thing, or a court thing?

Curt581
01-20-2004, 07:41 PM
No, it's a "Don't discourage complaints" or a "Cops have less rights that civilians" thing.

It gets better... If an officer manages to get more than the average number of complaints, even though every one is unfounded, the officer can be said to be "engaging in a pattern of behavior". Which could be used against him in deciding on promotions or transfers to specialty units.

No one has yet been able to explain to me how someone can engage in behavior shown not to exist.
:rolleyes:

ProWriter
01-20-2004, 07:42 PM
Generally speaking, if she's not filing a report saying you did something criminal, most false reporting statutes wouldn't apply the way they would if she actually filed a bona-fide police report claiming that you assaulted her or robbed her or something like that, in addition to her civilian complaint.

You can't just add the necessary words to make filling out the complaint a criminal violation without enacting new legislation through the normal channels for creating new laws. What you probably can do is simply require all complaints to be notarized, which would make knowingly false statements much more serious than just a "false writing", especially wherever there's no statute on false writings.

Normally, you need to prove actual monetary damages for slander, but anything that actually pertains to your qualifications or suitability to perform the functions of your vocation is one of the four categories of defamation for which damages are presumed. So if you have a tape demonstrating that her accusations were complete fabrications specifically designed to damage your career, you might get everything for your legal expenses and some punitives in civil court. Small claims is probably worth the trouble and the judge is likely to be as generous to you (and punitive to her) as the statutory limit allows.

JBradDavis
01-20-2004, 08:40 PM
Is that an admin thing, or a court thing?

GCPD: Its called a BULLSH*T thing...

-JBD

retdetsgt
01-20-2004, 10:06 PM
I'm sure this will happen to you again.... I got several of those and never really gave them much thought after the first one. That one upset about as much as this one did to you.

As long as you're out there doing your job, some nutcase now and then is going to think they can "get back" at you by filing a loony complaint.

One of the funniest was after a murder trial where two brothers were found guilty and sentenced to life w/o parole, their mother filed a complaint with the DA and my dept saying I committed perjury. She had no specifics other than I lied about her sons....

Overtime, people that I know that really did get in trouble with IA more or less deserved it. We had a small group that had more excessive force complaints than the rest of the entire dept. The press had a field day with it. But I worked around these guys and they were black gloved ******. They did beat up people, I saw it. Half of them eventually retired as captains..... :rolleyes:

GCPD1258
01-21-2004, 09:54 AM
Retdetsgt:

I have had a few complaints, and no, I never lose sleep over them or give them much of a second thought.

This was a topic some co-workers and I thought up and I figured this would be a good place for some feedback. Your experience obviously speaks the truth once more, when you say that they are part of the job. Some would argue that if you are not getting a complaint every now and then, you aren't doing your job, and making contacts.

retdetsgt
01-21-2004, 01:26 PM
Originally posted by GCPD1258
. Some would argue that if you are not getting a complaint every now and then, you aren't doing your job, and making contacts.

And I would agree with that. Although I've read some real horror stories here about the IA's a few depts., mine was pretty fair. If a complaint was sustained, you could be assured that it was after a pretty thorough investigation. If it was a tossup, the officer is given the benefit of the doubt.

I read somewhere while I was in college that about 5% of any population is aberrant and going to behave off the scale. Any reasonable amount of contact with the public is going to put you in front of one of these from time to time.

Good luck out there and keep up the good work!

GCPD1258
01-21-2004, 04:50 PM
Well, as you well know. That 5% is what the police spend about 95% of our time with!

cleetus0219
01-21-2004, 04:58 PM
My horror story that soured me (LONG):

I worked in a very liberal town. Liberal towns tend to have an administration that wets their pants any time someone threatens to run to a newspaper or media, especially when race is involved in the allegation.

I was a year on the job, very proactive, and a good 'producer.' This means roughly 40 MV stops a month, 25 or so moving tickets, 30+ parkers, a couple arrests, and all your regular jobs you got sent on. When you add it up, that means a LOT of contact with the public. This was also prior to cameras in the car.

I happened to make a MV stop on the wrong person one day. I saw him pull out from behind a building where there shouldn't have been anyone. I looked him over as he passed by me, and he gave one of those double-takes and drove on by.

I got behind him, got the plate, and was just about to turn off of him when he blew a stop sign in front of me. How I wish I hadn't taken the bait.

Long and short- He's black, I'm white. He claimed I stopped him only because he was black. He ranted, raved, caused a scene (people actually came out of their homes to see who was screaming), MF'ed me, wouldn't stay in his car, the whole nine. I told him to knock his crap off, gave him a ticket, and left with him still screaming at me from outside his car.

I knew where this was going, so I covered my *** by writing the ticket, though he would have just gotten a warning if everything had checked out.

He wrote a letter to the local town rag. Town rag printed his story. In it, they print my name and am called a racist. He didn't use the word 'racist' but alludes to it by using 'stopped because of the color of my skin' line. The captain sees the letter in the paper, craps his pants and calls me into his office.

Captain puts a microphone in front of me and asks what happened. No Garrity warning, no nothing. Feeling 100% right in my actions, I gave him my version and walked out. You have to remember I was just a year on and trying to make the best impression I could.

A week later, court comes. I'm in the back of the court, waiting to see if they need me to testify. The guy goes up in front of the judge and the first thing out of his mouth-

Judge: I read your letter in the newspaper. Have you done anything further with it?
Guy: No.
J: Have you decided if you're going to sign a complaint against the officer for harassment?
G: Uh, no. I was going to wait to see how this turned out.
J: Well, I'm not telling you what to do, but it might be a good idea to sign a harassment complaint against the officer.
G: Well, I don't know.
J: It's very easy. Just go to the office and tell them you want to file a harassment complaint.
G: Ok. That's what I'm going to do.
J: If you do that, the case will be heard in a different venue.

My jaw hit the floor.

Two months later, I was in a different court, alone (no brass went with me, nor offered to), pleading my case. The scumbag was found guilty and my harassment charge was dropped. When I got back to HQ, the chief just wanted to know the outcome, nothing else.

A week later, another letter appeared in the town rag about how I lied in court and that the community should get together to stop racism in the department.

The chief was supposed to write a letter to defend me, but the ball less wonder failed to stick up for me. I never pursued a civil case because I transferred out of that department a few months after this happened and wanted to leave it behind. I never did leave it behind, nor get closure on it, and it still affects me 5 years later.

Did I harass the guy? No. Did I do my job? Yes. Did the department do anything to curb this type of behavior by the public? Absolutely not.

GCPD1258
01-21-2004, 05:42 PM
That is crazy. I'm just glad I haven't had a run in like that yet. I'm sure my day is coming. Our admin is good about backing us, because they are (amazingly) not that far removed from the street. That is a blessing, but you know how things change...

vlgallas
01-23-2004, 06:09 PM
JBrad Davis, Your comments concerning charging her piece of shi- ***** brings me to a question.... How would you feel about a fellow officer that committed perjury to obtain a warrant?
Now I realize that he has absolute immunity for his perjury on the stand, in trial, however, he does not for the plethora of perjury in the arrest warrant affidavit.
Is this a one way street to you?
Is it okay when the perjurer is a fellow officer?
Shouldn't he be charged under Florida statutes?
Now we are talking about an overwhelming amount of perjury here, not one stupid lie. I look forward to hearing your opinion as an officer in the Orlando area.

HGN
01-31-2004, 05:55 AM
No GC...moved on to another PD...thank the Good Lord!

shooter1201
01-31-2004, 11:40 AM
My Chief had a 'complaint' against me made yesterday by an individual I was reportedly accusing of running a Meth lab.:rolleyes: This individual further stated that my false accusations were 'ruining his business'.

I'd never HEARD of this individual(or the last name), had NO knowledge of what business he was supposedly in, etc. My Chief KNOWS from past experiences that IF I have ANY knowledge of 'suspected drug activity', I either give the information to him PERSONALLY, or to our Drug Task Force agents.

So.....for the past 24 hours, I've been wracking my brain TRYING to figure out what's 'up' with this 'complaint'. I must have written the 'wrong person' a ticket or something....

retired
01-31-2004, 12:55 PM
Originally posted by shooter1201
My Chief had a 'complaint' against me made yesterday by an individual I was reportedly accusing of running a Meth lab.:rolleyes: This individual further stated that my false accusations were 'ruining his business'.

I'd never HEARD of this individual(or the last name), had NO knowledge of what business he was supposedly in, etc. My Chief KNOWS from past experiences that IF I have ANY knowledge of 'suspected drug activity', I either give the information to him PERSONALLY, or to our Drug Task Force agents.

So.....for the past 24 hours, I've been wracking my brain TRYING to figure out what's 'up' with this 'complaint'. I must have written the 'wrong person' a ticket or something....

So how much money do you make a month on the meth lab?:D :D

shooter1201
01-31-2004, 04:32 PM
Apparently it's LESS than the $7.54/HR I make as a part-time cop....:rolleyes: