In order to provide better
customer service and accessibility to police services, the following FAQs,
answers, web links and other information is provided. If you cannot find
the information you need below, please contact us at (626) 744-4501.
is a personnel complaint?
The Department takes all
personnel complaints very seriously. Our Code of Conduct Statement is
online at www.cityofpasadena.net/Police/Code_of_Conduct/
A personnel complaint is any
allegation of misconduct or improper job performance against any department
employee, sworn or civilian, that may constitute a violation of department
policy, or federal, state or local law.
There are two types of
complaints, informal and formal:
Informal Complaint- Informal complaints may be verbalized without being
documented on a personnel complaint form. Once made, the responsible
supervisor has the discretion to resolve the informal complaint consistent with
department policy and the person making the complaint is satisfied that
appropriate action will be taken.
Formal Complaint- Formal complaints are documented in writing requesting
an investigation and conclusion. A formal complaint can be made by either
a citizen (external) or by a supervisor (internal) who has determined that
administrative action is warranted. Complaints are investigated by a
police supervisor of the accused employee or referred to the
Department’s Professional Standards Unit, depending upon the seriousness and
complexity of the accusation. Formal complaints are assigned a file
number; investigations are documented in writing, and presented for
review and disposition by Command Staff, per Department policy.
Occasionally, a complaint
involves a person who then refuses to cooperate with investigators or is
unavailable for follow-up contact. In these situations, and at the
discretion of the Professional Standards Unit, the investigation may proceed
without the complainant’s cooperation or be suspended with the approval of the Chief of Police.
do I make a personnel complaint?
A complaint can be filed in
person, in writing, through a community liaison, or by telephoning the Police
Department. Although not required, the Department encourages the
complainant to appear in person so that they can speak directly to a department
The Personnel Complaint form
is available online at http://www.ci.pasadena.ca.us/Police/Contact_Us/
Anonymous or third-party
complaints will be accepted and investigated to the extent that sufficient
information is provided.
Please fill out a Personnel
Complaint form as completely and as clearly as possible, with as much detailed
information as you have available. If this is not feasible, the complaint may
be given verbally, in person, to the receiving supervisor to ensure all of your
available information is included. We encourage anyone making a
complaint to also allow us to obtain a recorded statement. However, this is not
required. Declining to be recorded is not grounds for the Department to
decline your complaint. Please also sign and date your complaint form
before submitting. You will receive a copy of your original complaint form and acknowledgement
from us that we have received it.
Complaints are referred to the
on-duty supervisor or section administrator for processing. Complaints
involving significant allegations are also given to the Watch Commander,
applicable Division Commander and Chief of Police as soon as practicable.
happens to my personnel complaint?
Each complaint is processed
and investigated as appropriate and on an individual basis. Generally, the investigation and administrative review are concluded within one year, unless extenuating circumstances exist that prolong the investigation.
Once the investigation is
completed, the results are presented to an Administrative Review Board.
The Professional Standards Unit will notify the complainant of its findings in
writing by letter. Each allegation shall be classified with one of the
Unfounded - When the
investigation discloses that the alleged act(s) did not occur or did not
involve department personnel. Complaints which are determined to be
frivolous will fall within the classification of unfounded
Exonerated - When the
investigation discloses that the alleged act occurred, but that the act was
justified, lawful and/or proper.
Not Sustained - When
the investigation discloses that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the
complaint or fully exonerate the employee.
Sustained - When the
investigation discloses sufficient evidence to establish that the act occurred
and that it constituted misconduct.
Community Mediation Program
The Community Mediation Program's is an alternative to the traditional complaint process by providing an opportunity to resolve disputes and concerns between complainants and Pasadena Police Department employees through mediation, facilitated by the Western Justice Center Foundation, 55 S. Grand Avenue, Pasadena, CA.
The setting is an informal, non-disciplinary, and non-adversarial process agreed to in advance by involved parties and it can address complaints involving procedures, service, courtesy concerns, and police tactics. Complaints regarding use of force, illegal arrests, discriminatory slurs, and alleged criminal conduct by a member are generally inappropriate for mediation.
The mediation is voluntary and intended to foster constructive communication between the complainant and the Police Department with the assistance of a trained neutral party mediator. The Program’s objectives are to increase the satisfaction of community and Department members in the resolution of public complaints. The open communication fosters greater understanding on both sides in a neutral setting designed to identify problem-solving solutions.
Interested complainants can utilize the Community Mediation Program by contacting the Administrative Services Section Lieutenant (626-744-6724) to determine eligibility and arrange for Dispute Resolution Services (DRS). The DRS Representative will contact the complainant to verify participation and coordinate the meeting with Police Department employees. At the conclusion of the mediation sessions, and with the agreement of all involved parties, the initially complaint would be withdrawn as resolved through mediation.
is it proper for a police officer to use force?
An officer’s ability to use
force against a person is strictly governed by the Federal and State
Constitutions; existing court case law; the California Penal Code and
Department Policy. Police officers are granted authority to use
reasonable force to accomplish lawful objectives. California Penal Code
Section 835 authorizes a peace officer to use reasonable force to affect
an arrest, to prevent escape, or to overcome resistance.
Whenever an officer uses
categorical force to affect an arrest or detention, a supervisor is notified
and conducts an investigation to evaluate whether the officer(s) used
reasonable force. The factors considered for reasonableness
(a) The immediacy and severity
of the threat to officers or others;
(b) The conduct of the
individual being confronted, as reasonably perceived by the officer at the
(c) Officer/subject factors
(age, size, relative strength, skill level, injuries sustained, level of
exhaustion or fatigue, the number of officers available vs. subjects);
(d) The effects of drugs or
alcohol on the person detained;
(e) Subject's mental state or
(f) Proximity of weapons or
dangerous improvised devices;
(g) The degree to which the
subject has been effectively restrained and his/her ability to resist despite
(h) The availability of other
options and their possible effectiveness;
(i) Seriousness of the
suspected offense or reason for contact with the individual;
(j) Training and experience of
(k) Potential for injury to
officers, suspects and others;
(l) Whether the person appears
to be resisting, attempting to evade arrest by flight, or is attacking the
(m) The risk and reasonably
foreseeable consequences of escape;
(n) The apparent need for
immediate control of the subject or a prompt resolution of the situation;
(o) Whether the conduct of the
individual being confronted no longer reasonably appears to pose an imminent
threat to the officer or others;
(p) Prior contacts with the
subject or awareness of any propensity for violence;
(q) Any other exigent
The Department’s policies also
provide guidelines on reasonable use of force but each situation is
different and fluid. There is no way to specify the exact amount, or type, of
reasonable force to be applied in every situation and, as a result, an
employee’s use of force will be evaluated every time on a case-by-case
The Department recognizes and
respects the value of all human life and dignity without prejudice. Vesting
officers with the authority to use reasonable force and to protect the public
welfare requires monitoring, evaluation and a careful balancing of all
Every member of the Department
is expected to comply with all legal guidelines and be professional, impartial
and reasonable in their decision making, especially when having to use
force. To help personnel be the most effective and efficient while on
duty, the Department conducts continual and on-going training and testing
related to force application.
What happens following an Officer-Involved Shooting (OIS)?
Officer-Involved Shooting (OIS) is one of the most serious events that an
officer, his/her department and the community ever faces. In order to preserve the public’s trust, all
OIS events receive the highest level of scrutiny, investigation and review available
to the Department.
post-shooting investigation involves many internal and external
procedures. The following is a summary
of the process after an OIS. These items
are listed by order of importance and some tasks may be completed simultaneously
by different persons:
or soon after the incident
- Police Command Staff and Administrative personnel are notified of
the incident, some of whom may go to the scene and/or assist at the
Command Post with the incident.
- Investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
(LASD) Homicide/OIS Bureau are requested to respond and conduct the
criminal investigation for incidents involving injuries. The Sheriff’s Department will facilitate the arrival
of Forensic Specialists and a Pasadena Police Detective Supervisor will be assigned as a LASD liaison.
- Non-Injury incidents will be investigated by the Pasadena Police Criminal Investigations Unit.
- Investigators begin their crime scene investigation and witness
- Forensic Specialists process
and collect items of physical evidence.
within 24 hours
- The involved officer(s) will be interviewed by investigators.
- The scene will be cleared after evidence is photographed and
- Investigators continue their investigation.
- In certain cases, additional government agencies may be
requested to assist in the investigations such as the U.S. Department of
Justice or the FBI.
Pasadena Police Department will conduct a comprehensive Administrative
Investigation, following the conclusion of independent criminal
investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The investigative
findings will then be presented to the Department’s Use of Force Review Board
as part of the administrative review process. The officer(s)’ actions
(prior to, during and after the shooting) and the incident management will be
examined, which will include an assessments of policies and procedures,
supervision, tactics, training and equipment.
How does the Pasadena Police Department review and oversee
uses of force by its employees?
Department objectively evaluates each use of force incident by its employees to
ensure that their authority was lawful, appropriate and consistent with training,
policy and the law. A Use of Force
Report is completed for each use of force incident. The report is forwarded to Professional
Standards Unit for tracking and an Administrative Review.
Professional Standards Unit shall ensure that a thorough investigation of the
incident is conducted with particular emphasis on the following areas:
Compliance to all Department policies and procedures.
and management of liability exposure created by the incident in a manner
consistent with the best interests of the City, Department and involved
(b) Identification of any training concerns connected to the
(c) Completion of a thorough presentation of the
investigation to the Administrative Use of Force Review Board. The City Attorney's
Office will have a representative present during the Administrative Use of
Administrative Use of Force Review Board will evaluate the circumstances
surrounding every discharge of a firearm in the City, whether the employee was on-
or off-duty, excluding training or recreational use. Administrative
Use of Force Review panel includes the Chief of Police, Deputy Chief of Police,
Police Commanders, Chief’s Adjutant, the police lieutenant or administrator
supervising the subject officer(s)/employee(s); the Administrative Section
Police Lieutenant, the Training Sergeant, and subject matter experts (SME)
review shall be based upon the facts reasonably believed, or known, by the
officer at the time of the incident, applying any legal requirements,
Department policies and procedures and approved training.
The Board shall make one of the following findings:
employee's actions were within or outside Department policy or procedure. Make
recommendations regarding training, equipment, supervision and tactics, as
If the Chief of Police concludes that discipline should be
considered, the investigation is forwarded to the Internal Affairs Unit for
If an employee’s actions are found to be outside of
department policy or the law, discipline may be imposed based upon the severity
of the violation and the officer’s performance history.
Public Safety Committee of the City Council is kept informed of significant use
of force incidents. Additionally, the
Department presents bi-annual summaries of all PPD Use of Force investigations
to the Public Safety Committee. The
Public Safety Committee’s meetings are open to the public to attend. Agendas and meeting schedules are posted
online at http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/commissions/council_pubsafety.asp and
in the Rotunda at City Hall, 100 N. Garfield Avenue, Pasadena, CA.