PCIARC Complaint Review Process
This process reviews complaints made about alleged police misconduct and decides if employee discipline is necessary. This process is different than, and does not replace, civil or criminal litigation. See the chart below for the differences between the internal complaint process, and civil or criminal litigation.
During the internal process, once a complaint is received, the coordinator will follow up with the complainant to ensure the complaint is signed and fully completed. The complaint will then be turned over to the Saint Paul Police Internal Affairs Unit.
At the conclusion of an investigation, the Internal Affairs Unit will submit the completed file to the Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission for review. The commission will make a recommendation for disposition and discipline to the chief of police. If a majority decision is obtained, the review coordinator shall inform the chief of police of the recommendation along with the rationale. The chief of police may agree with the commission and take the recommended action.
Failure of the commission to reach a majority decision will cause the investigation to proceed directly to the chief of police for determination and disposition.
If the chief of police disagrees with the recommendation, he or she will notify the chair who has 5 working days to discuss concerns with the chief of police before any action is finalized. This provision does not prohibit the chief of police from taking immediate action in any case. Per state law (Minn. Stat. § 626.89 Subd. 17), civilian review boards do not have authority to make a finding of fact or determination regarding a complaint against an officer or impose discipline on an officer. Recommendations are advisory only and are not binding on nor limit the authority of the chief of police.
Types of Complaints
When filing a complaint, is not necessary to identify what sort of complaint it is—each complaint could have multiple charges. The different types are:
- Excessive force
- Improper conduct (not following procedures outlined in the Saint Paul Police Department policy manual)
- Improper procedure (ex: inaccurately filling out a police report)
- Poor public relations (ex: using inappropriate language or tone)
- Workplace conduct
- Inappropriate discharge of a firearm
Many cases are reviewed by the PCIARC. For each complaint reviewed by the Commission, the Commission shall recommend one of the following determinations:
- Complaint is sustained, meaning that the allegation is supported by sufficient evidence
- Complaint is not sustained, meaning that there is insufficient evidence either to prove or disprove the allegation
- Complaint is unfounded, meaning that the allegation is false or not factual
- Officer(s) exonerated, meaning that the incident occurred but was lawful and proper
- Complaint revealed a policy failure, meaning that the allegation is factual and followed proper procedure however that procedure has proven to be faulty.
If a complaint is sustained, the Commission has the authority to recommend discipline as well. The Commission can recommend:
- Oral reprimand
- Written reprimand
- Suspension (up to 30 days)
The Chief of Police has the final say on the complaint's disposition and discipline.
All of the processes surrounding the complaint review process as it pertains to intake and PCIARC review are spelled out in the PCIARC Standard Operating Procedures Document. The document was created with input from the Saint Paul City Attorney's Office, the City's Labor Relations team, the City's Office of Technology and Communications, the Saint Paul Police Department, the Saint Paul Human Rights Department, and the Mayor's Office. It was last updated 10.9.17. It will be revised and updated from time to time.
For questions on the complaint process or the Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission, please contact the PCIARC Coordinator.