I want to know: How to file a police complaint

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POSTED: Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 3:53pm

UPDATED: Friday, May 16, 2014 - 8:28am

The brave law enforcement officers of the Rio Grande Valley have a sworn duty to protect and serve. 

But there are dozens of stories involving corruption and crime among the ranks. 

Recently, the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office moved criminal investigations of the department out of its Internal Affairs bureau. 

That means any deputy accused of a crime will not be investigated by the outside Internal Affairs. It will now be handled by investigators within the Sheriff's Office. 

"We looked at what other agencies our size are doing," Commander Joel Rivera of the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office said. "Criminal investigations and internal affairs are handled completely separately.  That is, a criminal investigator will investigate the criminal activity, and an internal investigator will look at the policy aspect of it." 

These moves come after the Sheriff's Office took a black eye in the Panama Unit corruption scandal. If large-scale criminal activity like that were discovered, agencies like the Texas Rangers or FBI would be called to help.

People with complaints about Sheriff's deputies are encouraged to call, email or visit with an official in the Sheriff's office. 

"We're encouraging people of the general public to come forward if they have a complaint," Rivera said. "Because we can only fix what we know about... We're only as good as the feedback we're getting from the public."

Over in the Mission Police Department, any complaints on its officers can go through either the police chief or the department's Office of Professional Responsibility. But all complaints must be formalized in writing. 

"Basically they come into the department, we take a statement to what occurred," Mission Police Chief Robert Dominguez said. "At that point in time, I have the responsibility of then ordering an internal investigation into the allegation made against the officer."

 

Like the Sheriff's Office, any alleged crime that strains department resources will be referred to an outside agency like the FBI.

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