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Complaint Resolution Process
PURPOSE AND INTENT
Society has a right to expect that those who are vested with the responsibility of enforcing the laws of this State, as well as other employees, will adhere to an appropriate standard of professional and individual conduct necessary to maintain the respect, confidence and cooperation of its citizens.
As we recognize the rights of all citizens, citizens should recognize that Florida Highway Patrol employees must be free to exercise their best judgment in taking necessary and reasonable action in the performance of their duties without fear of reprisal.
Specific complaint procedures have been adopted by the Patrol to ensure that fair and proper action is taken when an employee is accused of misconduct. This also protects employees from unwarranted or false accusations. Additionally, this system provides a means of identifying and correcting deficiencies in policies, procedures, supervision, or training.
Who may make a complaint?
Any member of the public or any Patrol employee may make a complaint. Normally, the person most directly affected by the alleged conduct should be the person to complain. As an example, a complaint of rudeness to a driver should be made by the driver, not a passenger in the vehicle. Exceptions would include a parent filing a complaint for a minor child or other similar situations.
In what form should complaints be made?
Complaints may be made in person, in writing, or by telephone. Complaints should concisely and specifically describe the conduct of the employee that was found to be improper. Rather than say that the employee was rude, explain how the employee was rude by providing the specific words or phrases, describing the employee’s tone of voice, or citing particular acts of rudeness. Identify the employee as much as possible. This can be accomplished by providing the employee’s name, ID number, patrol vehicle license number, and the date, time and location of the incident. If available, include the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.
To whom should complaints be submitted?
Normally, a complaint will be referred to a supervisor, however, all Patrol employees are required to accept complaints if no supervisor is immediately available to do so.
When may complaints be made?
Complaints may be made at any time. Normal office hours and telephone numbers are listed at the back of this pamphlet. Additionally, complaints should be made within a reasonable time after the alleged misconduct occurred to help ensure evidence is still available and recollections of the incident are fresh.
What things can be complained about?
The complaint resolution process was established to identify alleged misconduct by Patrol employees. This encompasses violations of laws or Patrol rules and regulations. A disagreement with a policy or law or the application of a policy or law is not considered a “complaint”, and will normally be referred to the commander most directly involved with the policy or law in question for response.
How does making a complaint affect present or future charges against me?
Any charges or legal issues must be decided by the appropriate court. The investigation of your complaint will focus on the conduct of the employee, not the charges against you. Therefore the charges against you are a separate issue which you will have to resolve in court. Employees are prohibited from retaliating against you, either in the present case or in the future, for lodging a complaint against them.
Can I make an anonymous complaint?
Supervisors are assigned to conduct an inquiry when an anonymous complaint is received to determine if any basis exists for the complaint; however, inquiries are less likely to reveal all the facts surrounding an alleged incident when the investigator is deprived of the opportunity to contact the complainant. We strongly encourage persons having concerns to provide their name and contact information to facilitate the inquiry.
THE INVESTIGATIVE PROCESS
Other than those complaints which are immediately resolved, every complaint of misconduct by an employee will be investigated.
Complaints received in the troops will be referred to the Office of the Inspector General at FLHSMV Headquarters in Tallahassee, for review and investigative assignment. The department will contact the complainant by letter to acknowledge receipt of the complaint.
Complaints of a routine nature will generally be assigned to FHP Troop investigators. More serious or complex matters will normally be investigated by the Office of the Inspector General.
Investigators shall attempt to contact the complainant, the accused employee, and witnesses; examine physical evidence; review reports and records; and thoroughly document the facts surrounding the incident.
Investigators shall thoroughly investigate allegations of misconduct and complete an investigative report at the conclusion of the investigation with their findings.
Disciplinary action will be initiated when deemed appropriate.
Some complaints may be resolved at the time they are made. For example, an explanation that the law requires (or allows) an employee to perform certain acts may satisfy the complainant. Such complaints may be marked resolved and require no further investigation; however, the complaint intake form will still be forwarded to the troop or district commander to be maintained on file.
Internal Affairs Annual Reports available upon request. Contact FHP Office of Professional Compliance at (850) 617-2305.
Dave Kerner, Executive Director