Citizen Complaint Procedure
Our Department is committed to providing professional law enforcement services to our community. We encourage people to express their opinions regarding the performance of our duties.
Where and how to file a complaint
You may make a complaint in person at any Sheriff’s station or Internal Affairs regardless of where the incident occurred. Internal Affairs is located at Sheriff’s Headquarters, 655 East 3rd Street in San Bernardino. If you do not wish to make a complaint in person, you may call Internal Affairs during normal business hours at (909) 387-3726, to have a Citizen Complaint form mailed to you.
You may also click on one of the form icons at the bottom of this page. Please complete the form, print it, and mail it to:
San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department
Internal Affairs Division
655 East Third Street
San Bernardino, California 92415-0061
If you feel more comfortable making a complaint in writing, and there is not enough room on the complaint form to fully explain your concerns, you may attach additional pages along with any documents you feel are relevant. There is no set format. You may tell your story in the way which you feel comfortable. Please remember it is important to include details such as when and where the incident occurred, the name of the employee involved if you know it and how we can contact you for additional information.
Please mail all the material directly to Internal Affairs at the address listed above.
How a formal personnel complaint is handled
When a formal personnel complaint is received, it is assigned to a supervisor from the station where the incident occurred for investigation. Often, the first thing the supervisor will ask to do is conduct a recorded interview with you. The purpose of this is to ensure the investigator has a good understanding of what your complaint is about and who is involved. Once the complaint has been thoroughly investigated, the commander of the station will review it and forward it to Internal Affairs.
Your complaint and the investigation will then be reviewed by Internal Affairs personnel and sent to the appropriate Bureau Deputy Chief. The Deputy Chief will examine all of the materials and render a decision on how the matter is to be handled. If an employee is to receive discipline the case may be referred to a disciplinary review board.
Investigation of a personnel complaint and the subsequent case review are very time-consuming and involved processes. Please be patient. After the complaint has been thoroughly investigated, and the appropriate action has been taken, you will be notified in writing of the results. California law prohibits the department from disclosing details of personnel investigations or any disciplinary action taken.
The letter you receive will list one or more of the following decisions relative to the allegations:
- SUSTAINED - The investigation established that the actions of the officer constitute misconduct.
- INCONCLUSIVE - The investigation established insufficient evidence to prove or disprove misconduct.
- UNFOUNDED - The investigation clearly established that the allegation is not true.
- EXONERATED - The investigation clearly established that the actions of the officer are not violations of law or department policy.
- FRIVOLOUS - The investigation established that the complaint is totally and completely without merit or offered for the sole purpose of harassing the officer.
Criminal charges and the courts
Many times people who have received a citation or were arrested feel they are not guilty of the charge. However, the validity of the citation or arrest and the guilt or innocence of the person involved must be determined by a Court of Law, not the Sheriff’s Department. Only the Court is empowered by law to adjudicate such matters. The filing of a Citizen Complaint will not stop a criminal investigation, prosecution or the citation process.