“It’s not a form, you talk to them face to face. Not the officer but to his sergeant. So you can tell him exactly how you feel and he’ll address your concerns right there instead of you writing a form and then it might take a while for them to read it.” That is the response a citizen was given when he asked a College Station Police Department employee for an Internal Affairs Complaint Form.
It was his fourth such verbal request for a complaint form during the 14 minutes he had been standing in the CSPD lobby up to that point. In a video titled COMPLAINT AUDIT ( FAILURE) : COLLEGE STATION PD, TX, YouTuber Sam Nawawi repeatedly requests a form to fill out a written complaint about a College Station police officer.
The employee at the counter never gives him a form. Instead, she makes him wait over 20 minutes for a sergeant. Five minutes after the sergeant escorts Nawawi into what appears to be an interrogation room, still no complaint form. It took over half an hour to obtain a form that most police departments post online.
Both the counter employee and and the sergeant make incorrect statements concerning the complaint process. The staffer’s “it might take a while for them to read it” comment seems to discourage filling out a complaint. The sergeant mentions that the complainant might get “called in” for the investigation if he files a formal complaint.
To further complicate the process, the sergeant incorrectly states that the complaint must be notarized. This creates another barrier to filing the complaint if the citizen wants to mail it in. When pressed, the sergeant admits to not being certain about the notarization requirement, and states that accommodation could be made if he mailed it in.
In fact, according to Texas Government Code, a complaint about a law enforcement employee just needs to be signed and in writing, it can be mailed, dropped off, or even emailed. No notary necessary.
§ 614.022. COMPLAINT TO BE IN WRITING AND SIGNED BY COMPLAINANT.
To be considered by the head of a state agency or by the head of a firedepartment or local law enforcement agency, the complaint must be:
(1) in writing; and (2) signed by the person making the complaint
The staffer and sergeant’s actions and statements appear to have the purpose of discouraging a written, formal complaint in favor of a less formal conversation with a supervising officer. Such tactics could be used to suppress complaint statistics and keep problems out of the public eye.