Official Complaint Process
It is the goal of the Brownsville Independent School District Police Department to provide the highest level of law enforcement/ community oriented services to the students, parents and employees of the Brownsville Independent School District. The Professional Standards Unit exists to ensure the Department exceeds in the compliance to all Federal, State and Local laws as well as District/ Department policies. In order to achieve this goal the Brownsville ISD Police Department welcomes feedback, either positive or negative, from the community for which we serve.
Positive feedback in the form of email, personal notes and verbal expressions will always be forwarded to the deserving team members.
When negative feedback is required, the Department is committed to thoroughly investigating all accusations of wrongdoing against individual officer(s) or the Department.
In accordance to Senate Bill 1704, the BISD Police Department has made significant efforts to launch an educational campaign aimed at informing the public on issues relevant to the complaint process. Special emphasis has been placed on informing school community members on filing a complaint relevant to racial profiling practices.
The command staff of the BISD Police Department has attended meetings where community members have been informed on efforts being made by the police department to continue banning racial profiling practices among its officers. In addition, pamphlets have been developed in an effort to reach out to individuals who have difficult attending public forums of discussion.
Filing a Complaint Based on Violations of the Texas Law on Racial Profiling
and General Complaints of Misconduct
The following information is made available to the population of the Brownsville Independent School District: The Department has established a two level complaint process by which community members may seek resolution for alleged wrongdoing.
Two Types of Complaints:
- Informal Complaint
A complaint that involves allegations of a non-serious nature where the complainant elects not to pursue the formal complaint process. The complainant may simply request notification by made to the employee's supervisor regarding the incident and their dissatisfaction with the level of service provided.
- Formal Complaint
An allegation of misconduct that maybe of a potentially serious nature which may warrant discipline and/or Departmental corrective action. Formal complains require the complainant (internal or external) requesting a Professional Standards Investigation to file the complaint in writing.
Formal Complaints to be in Writing
The following laws govern the complaint process against a peace officer in the State of Texas:
The Texas Government Code § 614.022 states: Complaint to be in writing and Signed by Complainant
To be considered the formal complaint must be:
- in writing; and
- signed by the person making the complaint.
Notices of Complaints to be Given
The Texas Government Code § 614.023 states: Copy of Complaint to be Given to Officer or Employee
(a) A copy of a signed complaint against a law enforcement officer, fire fighter, or police officer shall be given to the officer or employee within a reasonable time after the complaint is filed.
(b) Disciplinary action may be taken against the officer or employee unless a copy of the signed complaint is given to the officer or employee.
Notice Regarding Prejudicial Statements
The Texas Penal Code § 37.02. Perjury:
(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to deceive and with knowledge of the statement's meaning:
1. he makes a false statement under oath or swears to the truth of a false statement previously made and the statement is required or authorized by law to be made under oath; or
2. he makes a false unsworn declaration under Chapter 132, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
(b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
Understanding the Process
Once an individual has filed a formal complaint regarding racial profiling or complaints of misconduct, he/she should expect the following process to commence:
An Investigator or Supervisor will interview the individual filing the complaint. The officer will ask the alleged victim questions about what happened. It is possible that the officer may be able to explain the officer(s)' actions to your satisfaction.
- Usually, the alleged victim be interviewed at the Police Department's Main Building. It is possible that he/she may be videotaped during the interview.
- The individual filing the complaint may bring a lawyer, family member or friend to the interview.
- The police officer will ask the individual filing a complaint for the names of witnesses and other police officers that may know facts about the complaint.
- A police photographer may take pictures of any injuries that the alleged victim think are related to the complaint.
After the interview, the Brownsville ISD Police Department will investigate the alleged misconduct. Investigators will talk to witnesses and visit the site of the incident.
- The investigators will consist of police officers assigned to the Professional Standard Unit.
- All officers will be interviewed and witnesses whom the alleged victim has named will be contacted and interviewed, if they agree.
- The alleged victim will receive a letter regarding the progress of the investigation. Although it is impossible to estimate how long the investigation will take, the alleged victim will receive periodic reports on its status.
- A report will then be prepared.
The Review Process
The Police Chief reviews every complaint after the investigation is completed and a report is written.
- If the complaint includes excessive force or charges an officer with a crime, it will also be reviewed by a Professional Standard Unit (PSU) investigator.
- The PSU will review your complaint, statements from all witnesses and reports from the investigator. The PSU investigator may ask for additional information before making recommendations to the Police Chief.
- The results of investigations that suggest there are no charges that the police officer used excessive force or committed a crime are also reviewed by the Police Chief.
- The Police Chief reviews investigations and makes the final decision on all complaints.
The results of your complaint are called "findings". There are the possible findings:
- Sustained- The complaint has been supported: The officer(s) involved acted improperly and may be disciplined.
- Not Sustained- The evidence neither proves nor disproves the allegations.
- Unfounded- The investigation found no basis to the complaint filed.
- Exonerated- The police officer(s) involved acted properly and will not be disciplined;
Policy Failure: The evidence supports a finding of misconduct, but the actions of the officer were consistent with policy or the evidence does not support a finding of misconduct, but the actions of the officer were in violation of policy.
The Police Chief will decide on a finding after the complaint has been reviewed. Further, he will inform the alleged victim through an official letter of the final decision.
A Commitment to Respond to the Needs of the Community
The Brownsville ISD Police Department has made a commitment to its citizens regarding the following:
- The department shall accept complaints from any person who believes he or she has been stopped or searched based on racial, ethnic or national origin profiling. No person shall be discouraged, intimidated or coerced from filing a complaint, nor discriminated against because he or she filed such a complaint.
- Any employee who receives an allegation of racial profiling, including the officer who initiated the stop, shall record the person's name, address and telephone number, and forward the complaint through the appropriate channel or direct the the individual(s). Any employee contacted shall provide to that person a copy of a complaint form or the department process for filing a complaint. All employee will report any allegation of racial profiling to their superior before the end of their shift.
- Investigation of a complaint shall be conducted in a thorough and timely manner. All complaints will be acknowledged in writing to the initiator who will receive disposition regarding said complaint within a reasonable period of time. The investigation shall be reduced to writing and any review's comments or conclusions shall be filed with the chief. When applicable, findings and/or suggestions for disciplinary actions, retraining, or changes in policy shall be filed with the chief.
- If a racial profiling complaint is sustained against an officer, it will result in appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
If an individual would like to file a official complaint, download the Police Complaint Form and fill out required information asked on the form. Once information is documented please take the forms to the Brownsville ISD Police Department headquarters and ask to speak to a police supervisor for the initiation of complaint.