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Complaint Process - Bias-Based Profiling

INTERNAL AFFAIRS

The Pinellas Park Police Department is one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the State of Florida. We are proud of the high quality of service we provide to our citizens and the reputation we have built within our community. To maintain this reputation, we constantly strive for excellence and hold our members to the highest professional standards.

The pursuit of excellence and maintenance of high standards requires that all allegations of employee misconduct be thoroughly investigated to assure the public that such conduct will not be tolerated, while at the same time ensuring employees are not unjustly accused of misbehavior.  The responsibility and authority for these investigations is assigned to the Internal Affairs Unit.  

The Internal Affairs Unit is tasked with receiving, processing, and the investigation of complaints made against members of the Police Department. To ensure the public trust and maintain the integrity of the Police Department, the Internal Affairs Unit conducts immediate, thorough and objective investigations of all complaints. All investigations will stand a test of fairness and all members of the Pinellas Park Police Department are treated equally regardless of rank.
 
COMPLAINT PROCESS

Minor misconduct allegations are typically investigated by a member’s first line supervisor.  Minor misconduct is defined as, but not limited to, rudeness, tardiness, carelessness, minor safety violations, and poor work performance.  The supervisor will meet or speak separately with both the complainant and the member to determine an appropriate action to resolve the complaint.  In most cases, minor complaints can be investigated and addressed within a matter of hours or within a few days.      

Serious complaints of misconduct are investigated by the Internal Affairs Unit.  These can include complaints received by first line supervisors, those received directly by the Internal Affairs Unit, or by any other method including anonymous complaints.  Examples of serious complaint allegations include use of excessive force, unlawful arrest, improper search, missing property, or other allegations of serious misconduct.  Investigations of this type will include interviews with witnesses, officers, complainants, and an examination of all available evidence.  Allegations of serious misconduct can take several weeks to investigate.  When the investigation is complete, the Chief of Police determines how best to resolve the complaint.

Once an investigation has concluded and a disposition has been made, complainants will be notified in person, by telephone, or by mail as to the outcome. 

Persons making or involved in a complaint regarding a department member's conduct will not be hindered or harassed in any manner for their action.  At the conclusion of all internal investigations, all recorded complaints and supervisory inquiry/investigation reports are forwarded to the Internal Affairs Coordinator.  Reports of closed investigations are public record and available for review as permitted by Florida Statute 119.

BIAS-BASED PROFILING

Every citizen regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, background, age, or culture deserves the highest level of service available and equal treatment under the law. The Pinellas Park Police Department is committed to this belief, and strives to insure unbiased policing in all of its encounters between officers and citizens.


Bias-based policing occurs when an officer makes decisions or takes police action based upon his or her own personal or societal biases or stereotypes, rather than relying on facts and observed behaviors which would lead the officer to believe that an individual has been, is currently, or is about to be involved in criminal activity.

Many citizens mistakenly believe that profiling is illegal, and that police officers are forbidden from using such a practice. The truth is that criminal profiling is legal, and is a legitimate technique used daily in law enforcement. Bias-based profiling on the other hand, is illegal and has no legitimate use in solving or preventing crime. So what's the difference between the two?  Criminal profiling is the use of legitimate law enforcement knowledge, training, and experience to narrow a field of suspects during a criminal investigation. Factual information, patterns of activity, and motives are some of the aspects considered when using criminal profiling to develop a suspect.

Bias-based profiling is the use of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, background, age, or culture as the sole basis for police activity. The absence of facts, suspicious activity, or specific criminal information is what separates bias-based profiling from legitimate criminal profiling.

It is important to realize that police officers must sometimes consider a person's race, age, gender, religion, and other factors when preparing a criminal profile, as it may be a necessary part of determining who would have had a motive or the capability of committing an alleged crime. Routinely we determine a possible type of suspect in a series of crimes by first scrutinizing the facts of the case, then further narrowing our search by considering factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, etc. The key element is that the investigative outcome is based on facts and knowledge, not personal attributes or societal biases.

Bias-based policing does not pay off for any of us, not for the Police Department or for the citizens. It invites distrust from the public, intense media scrutiny, and the possibility of legal action against the Department for constitutional and civil rights violations. We use every legitimate law enforcement technique, including criminal profiling, to preserve the safety of everyone we serve, but acts of bias-based policing are simply discriminatory acts that will not be tolerated.

If you feel you have been the victim of bias-based profiling, please file a complaint as described above.