What is Done with a Complaint?
The Sheriff or Undersheriff will review the complaint and assign it for investigation based on the nature of the complaint. Usually it is handled in one of three ways:
- Assigns it to the division involved. The Division Commander will either conduct the investigation or delegate it to a qualified subordinate.
- Assigns it for criminal investigation. Criminal conduct complaints may be assigned to one of the Sheriff's Office detectives to be investigated like any other criminal allegation, or it may be assigned to an outside law enforcement agency for investigation.
- Declines to look into the matter further. If, in the initial stages of the investigation, it is determined that the allegation is without merit, occurred more than 6 months ago, or involves an agency other than the Benton County Sheriff's Office, the case will not be investigated further. The person complaining will receive a letter explaining the decision and the appeal process.
How are Cases Investigated?
The investigation into the complaint may include questioning the person filing the complaint, any witnesses, and the Sheriff's Office member or members involved. Any relevant evidence will also be secured. Necessary investigative interviews will be mutually arranged at the convenience of the complainant and the investigator. It is our goal to complete complaint investigations within 30 days.
What Happens After the Investigation?
After a complaint has been investigated and reviewed, it is given one of four classifications. The classification given is known as the "finding". Findings include either...
- Unfounded: Claim is false. Based on the facts of the investigation, there is no basis to the allegations.
- Exonerated: Actions of the Deputy were within the guidelines of Sheriff's Office policy.
- Insufficient Evidence: There was not enough evidence to prove or disprove the allegation(s).
- Sustained: Deputy was found to be in violation of the Sheriff's Office policy or procedure.
The investigation report and recommended finding is forwarded to the Sheriff for final action. Both the Sheriff's Office member and the person complaining are notified of the results of the investigation.
Is there an appeals process?
If the person initiating the complaint is unsatisfied with the result, he or she may appeal directly to the Sheriff in writing within fourteen (14) days of receipt of their results notification letter. If unsatisfied with the decision of the Sheriff, the complainant may file an appeal with the Benton County Law Enforcement Review Committee (LERC). This appeal must occur within fourteen days of receiving a written notification of the Sheriff's decision. The LERC functions under the authority and direction of the Board of Commissioners.