1. A complaint is filed. A Complaint against a police officer may be filed in person, by mail, or by phone with either the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) or with the Charlotte Community Relations Committee.
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
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
2. The complaint is investigated by the Police Department. Once a complaint is filed with either the Police Department or Community Relations, it is assigned to an investigator in CMPD Internal Affairs or the appropriate supervisor in the officer’s chain of command. The complaint is to be investigated within 45 days. There is no additional requirement that the person who filed the complaint (the complainant) be consulted during the Police Department investigation.
3. Internal disciplinary hearing. If the Police Department investigation concludes that there is a “fair probability” that officer misconduct has occurred, the complaint is heard by an internal Police review board (the Chain of Command Review Board). The officer is allowed to select a peer to sit on the Chain of Command Review Board. There is no requirement that the complainant be consulted during this hearing process.
4. A decision is made by the internal police review board. The Chain of Command Review Board adjudicates the allegation of misconduct, which is settled in one of four ways:
Sustained- There is sufficient evidence to prove the allegation made in the complaint.
Unfounded- The allegation is false and the alleged misconduct did not occur.
Not Sustained- The investigation failed to disclose sufficient information to prove or disprove the allegation made in the complaint.
Exonerated- The acts alleged in the complaint occurred, but they were justified, lawful, and proper.
5. Disciplinary action decision and notification. When an allegation against an officer is sustained, the Chief of Police decides the appropriate disciplinary action to take. The Chief of Police may exercise final disposition in any other matter, although he is not required to do so. CMPD Internal Affairs is to notify the complainant of the conclusion of the complaint.
6. Appealing a CMPD decision. The complainant has seven days after receiving notification of the complaint’s conclusion to file an appeal to the Citizens Review Board (CRB). The Charlotte Community Relations Committee will help a complainant file their appeal. The Community Relations Committee is not authorized to guide the complainant through the appeal process.
7. CRB decides whether to hold a hearing. Upon the complainant’s request for an appeal, the Chief of Police prepares a summary of the case that is submitted to the CRB. The CRB reviews the summary of the case and appeal within 30 days, and makes a decision whether to hold a hearing. The CRB applies a “preponderance of the evidence whether the Chief of Police abused his discretion” standard of review in making its decision to hold a hearing. The case is dismissed if the CRB decides not to hold a hearing.
8. Hearing. If the Board decides to hold a hearing, it is to be conducted within 30 days. During the hearing, the complainant offers evidence first and then the Police Department. The parties have a right to cross-examine and give closing statements. The CRB members may ask questions at any point in the process. At the conclusion of the hearing, the CRB will decide whether, “by a preponderance of the evidence, the Chief of Police abused his discretion” in deciding what disciplinary action was taken in response to the complainant’s complaint.
9. Decision. Within 10 days of the hearing, the CRB will issue written findings of fact and a recommendation to the Chief of Police and City Manager. The Chief of Police will consider the CRB’s findings of fact and recommendation, and take whatever action he deems to be appropriate. Within 7 days of receipt of the CRB report, the Chief of Police will report his decision to the City Manager. The City Manager will review the Chief of Police’s decision and take any action he deems appropriate within 7 days. The City Manager will notify all parties of his decision to take any action.
* According to Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Directive 200-001 and Charlotte City Ordinance Sec. 16-56 through 16-64.
Charlotte’s Complaint Process
(steps for filing a complaint and appeal*)