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Police complaint review process

  

1. A complaint is filed. Every complaint, regardless of its nature, will be investigated. You can file a complaint in person, by mail or by phone with either the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department or with Community Relations.

  • To file with CMPD Call 704-336-2336 (Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.) or 704-336-2141 (after hours) or file in person at 601 East Trade Street (map You are leaving the site.).
  • To file with Community Relations Call 704-336-2382 (Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.) or file in person at 600 East Trade Street (map You are leaving the site.)
2. The complaint is investigated. Once a complaint is filed, it is assigned to an investigator in Internal Affairs or the appropriate supervisor in the officer's chain of command.
  • Complaints of minor offenses, such as rudeness or failure to appear in court, are usually handled by the officer's immediate supervisor.
  • Complaints of serious offenses, such as excessive force, require a hearing by the Chain of Command Review Board.

3. A disciplinary hearing is held. Once the complaint has been investigated, a disciplinary hearing is held. During the hearing, the investigative case file is reviewed by all of the board members, which includes at least one member of Community Relations. The board also questions employee witnesses to clarify any concerns or ask additional questions not covered in the investigation. 

4. A decision is made by CMPD. The board adjudicates the allegation of misconduct, which is settled in one of four ways:

  • Sustained - The allegation is proven by evidence
  • Unfounded - The allegation is false and the alleged incident did not occur.
  • Not sustained - There is not information to prove or disprove the allegation.
  • Exonerated - The incident occurred; however, the officer involved acted lawfully and properly.

If the allegation is sustained against an officer, the Chief of Police or his/her designee takes the proper corrective measures, which range from verbal or written reprimands to a recommendation for dismissal. Only the Civil Service Board, which is the appeal arm for sworn officers, can dismiss an officer who has completed his/her probationary period. Officers are notified of the outcome of the disciplinary hearing and, if warranted, any resulting disciplinary action.
 
5. An appeal is heard. The Citizens Review Board (CRB) may hear appeals of cases involving the use of force; unbecoming conduct; arrest, search and seizure; and discharge of a firearm by an officer that results in death or injury to a citizen. The appeal process is as follows:

  • The CRB determines whether an appeal is warranted based on the evidence presented.
  • With assistance from the CRC, citizens may file written notice of appeal with the City Clerk's Office within seven days of receiving the written closure letter from CMPD.
  • The CRB will then hold an appeal hearing and issue its recommendation to the Chief of Police and City Manager. The City Manager makes the final decision, and all parties will be notified of the decision.

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File a complaint against a CMPD police officer

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About the Citizens Review Board
The Charlotte City Council created the Citizens Review Board (CRB) in 1997 to review appeals from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's disposition of citizen complaints involving the following:

  • Certain types of alleged misconduct by a police officer; or
  • The discharge of a firearm by an officer that results in injury or death.
The CRB serves only in an advisory capacity to the Chief of Police, the City Manager and the City Council. The CRB itself cannot take disciplinary action against a police officer or award damages to an injured citizen. The CRB only can advise the Chief of Police and the City Manager when it becomes clear to the CRB that the disciplinary decision of the police department was a serious mistake.

The CRB is made up of 11 members who are appointed by the Mayor (three), the City Manager (three) and City Council (five). All CRB members are unpaid volunteers who give their time to this process. At least six CRB members must be present at any meeting or hearing for the CRB to act. The CRB is assisted by staff from the City Clerk's Office and by an attorney.