How to file a complaint with the BPD, what happens next, LEOBR, & what legal training do officers have

So you’ve had a bad experience with an officer and would like to file a complaint, but you don’t know where to start, who to call, or what happens next. Never fear; Fortunate Femme is here!

Where to File a Complaint Against an Officer

Complaint Process

Once a complaint is received by the BPD, it is either assigned to the CIU (Command Investigation Unit listed above) or the IAS (Internal Affairs), depending on its severity. The CIU handles less serious complaints at the unit or command level. The IAS handles more serious complaints usually dealing with use of force or serious misconduct.

IAS Investigation

If a case goes to IAS, it will be assigned to one of the squads based on the type of case and the officer’s assignment. They use “standard investigative methods” as would be used in any other investigation.

Once the investigation is complete, they will render a Sustained or Not Sustained finding. If Not Sustained, the case can then be expunged from the officer’s personnel file.

If IAS finds a complaint to be Sustained, the case is forwarded to the Legal department for review and sent to the Discipline Review Committee (DRC) for recommendations on punishment.

If the officer denies the allegations against him, he or she can request a hearing pursuant to the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR), unless convicted of a felony. This hearing consists of three officers, one of whom is a Major who chairs it. In the Freddie Gray investigation, a chairperson from a different agency was used, given how high profile the case was.

Accelerated Disciplinary Program (ADP)

This program is intended to expedite the disciplinary process for cases where the facts are undisputed and diclipline is unlikely to lead to termination. This process in place so that cases can be completed in a timelier manner. According to Chief Hill, it ensures that discipline is swift, certain, and proportionate to the policy violation.

The officer being disciplined will be offered a punishment and he has 7 days to accept it. If rejected, the punishment offer is increased. Seventy-five percent of ADPs are accepted.

For more context and a further understanding of the structure of Internal Affairs and the Office of Professional Responsibility, see my previous post here.

Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights

Did you know that Maryland was the first state to have a Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBR)?  As part of our lecture on Internal Affairs, we learned about the LEOBR  because police internal investigations or complaints must comply with the regulations of the LEOBR.

Under the LEOBR, law enforcement officers are granted more extensive rights that are not available to the general public, due to the nature of their work. According to Chief Hill, twenty states have LEOBRs, though only 14 are listed on wikipedia.

Chief Hill provided a list of what the LEOBR in Baltimore City governs:

  1. Who is covered under it
  2. Who can investigate an officer
  3. How an investigation is conducted-The officer must be informed in writing of the nature of the investigation
  4. How an interrogation is conducted
  5. Statute of Limitations-the department has one year to bring charges
  6. Due process requirements
  7. Judicial review

Legal Training

Legal training within the BPD has evolved quite a bit in the last year and a half, even before the DOJ report came out. They now provide 7 full day practical assessments, including 34 law classes on critical topics with a full overview of the 4th amendment and nuances of the constitution.

Officers are taught limits of law enforcement according to the US Constitution, Maryland Constitution, MD law, and departmental policy.

Trainees also critique footage from Body Worn Cameras and instructors provide feedback.

Older officers also receive in-service training with practical exercises and an overview of the 4th amendment.

Since the consent decree, a 3rd law instructor was brought on to provide more legal training. The BPD now has the most rigorous training in the state, with 20% of each officer having to repeat the class.


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