Key West, FL Citizen Review Board

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Key West, FL, US

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Type: Policy

Status: Last revised on 6/17/04

Source File:


City of Key West Citizen Review Board Policies and Procedures

I. Purpose
To establish guidelines for the receipt and processing of allegations of sworn police officers misconduct in compliance with the Charter of the City of Key West Article I, Chapter 1.07.

II. Scope
These guidelines are applicable in addressing allegations of misconduct by sworn officers of the Key West Police Department. Complaints must have been filed on or after November 5, 2002, in writing.

III. Amendment
These Policies and Procedures may be amended by a majority vote of the Citizen Review Board (CRB) at a regularly scheduled and noticed meeting where the item appears on the published agenda for discussion and/or action.

IV. Definitions

Board: Citizen Review Board

CRB: Citizen Review Board

Complaint: Allegation(s) of misconduct against a sworn police officer of the Key West Police Department.

Complainant: The person filing the complaint.

Excessive Force: The unreasonable force used by a sworn police officer of the Key West Police Department against a person or persons.

False Arrest: Arrest made without probable cause that a crime has been committed and that the person in question has committed that crime.

Independent Investigator: The persons retrained by the Executive Director to receive, administer, and/or investigate, at the direction of the CRB, allegations of sworn police officer misconduct.

Inquiry: A query to collect information to assess the merit and substance of the complaint to determine if there is need for further action.

Internal Affairs: The Bureau of Professional Standards – Office of Internal Affairs is responsible for recording, registering and investigating all complaints of alleged misconduct on the part of any sworn police officer of the Key West Police Department.

Internal Investigation: A formal administrative or criminal investigation authorized by the Chief of Police and conducted by, or in conjunction with, the Key West Police Department on one of its sworn officers as a result of an allegation or suspicion of possible misconduct.

KWPD: Key West Police Department

Misconduct: Actions or inaction on the part of a sworn police officer of the Key West Police Department, that if substantiated, would constitute a violation of state or federal laws, local ordinances, City of Key West Policy and Procedures, or Departmental written directives.

Probable Cause: A condition where facts and circumstances known to the sworn police officer warrant a reasonable person to believe that the suspected person has committed a crime.

V. Appointments/Terms/Vacancies

A. Appointments

1. Original Members
a) The CRB was created by a majority vote of the citizens of Key West on November 5, 2002. Therefore, the board is an ordinance-mandated body of seven citizens, which receives, reviews and investigates allegations of misconduct filed against sworn police officers of the Key West Police Department as well as other functions as defined in the Charter of the City of Key West.
b) The City Commission selected the first four of seven board members in March 2002 who then selected the final three board members.
2. Chair & Vice Chair
a) The CRB Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson are nominated and voted into position by the majority of the board.
b) The Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson in his or her absence shall preside over meetings of the CRB. Neither the Chairperson nor Vice-Chairperson shall have autonomy from the CRB, nor the power to bind or commit the CRB in the absence of express consent from the board.

B. Terms

1. All Board Members
The terms of office for all members is four (4) years, except for the initial terms that are staggered over four years in accordance with the Charter.
2. Chair & Vice-Chair
The terms of office for the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson shall be one year, with the term of office expiring on June 30. The terms of the initial Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson shall expire on June 30, 2005. Upon expiration of the terms of the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, or should either or both resign their offices, then at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the CRB, or at such other date as the CRB may select, the CRB shall elect a replacement based on a majority vote of those Board members in attendance at such meeting. There shall be no limit on the number of terms that a Board member may serve as the Chairperson or Vice Chairperson and shall have the right to serve consecutive terms if duly reappointed by the Board.

C. Vacancies

1. City Commission Appointees
If a vacancy occurs among the four members of the CRB appointed by the City Commission, that vacancy shall be filled by the City Commission from nominations submitted by community-based organizations within ninety (90) days from the time the vacancy is announced. Every nomination must be accompanied by an application from the potential member. The Executive Director of the CRB will coordinate the nominating process including noticing the organizations, soliciting nominations, and ensuring that nominations are complete and the qualifications of prospective members meet membership criteria specified in this ordinance before they are submitted to the City Commission.
2. CRB Appointees
If a vacancy occurs among the three members appointed by the CRB, the CRB, by majority vote, shall fill that vacancy from nominations from the general public. The Executive Director of the CRB will coordinate the nominating process.

VI. Complaint Categories

A. Written Complaints

All complaints shall be reduced to writing in a letter format or using the CRB approved complaint form. It is preferred that the Complainant use the CRB approved format.

B. Anonymous Complaints

The CRB reserves the right to investigate an anonymous complaint when the CRB deems it appropriate.

VII. The Review Process/Options

A. Status Determination

Consulting with the Key West Police Department and the States Attorney’s Office, the CRB Executive Director and attorney will determine if an investigation related to the complaint is already underway. The existence of an ongoing investigation does not preclude the CRB from opening its own investigation (1.07 Citizen Review Board Charter). However, the Executive Director shall take appropriate steps to advise the Complainant that the Complainant, written and oral communications by the Complainant and all other matters pertaining to the CRB’s investigation of the Complaint will become a matter of public record, and that the Complaint and written and oral communications between the CRB and the Complainant may be used against the Complainant in any criminal prosecution. The Executive Director shall attempt to determine whether or not a Complainant is represented by an attorney in connection with the subject matter of the Complainant, and if so, the Executive Director shall advise the Complainant to consult with his or her attorney prior to filing the complaint.

B. Internal Affairs Investigation and Confidentiality

Currently, all complaints are forwarded directly to the Key West Police Department Internal Affairs (IA) Bureau and the Chief of Police within two days of receiving the complaint.
Any complaint received by the CRB against a Key West police officer will be forwarded to the Internal Affairs office according to CRB policy and the board will keep that complaint and any information relating to that complaint confidential pursuant to the 45 day time period as set forth in the Policeman’s Bill of Rights or such time period properly extended pursuant to Florida law unless the time period is extinguished prior to the 45 day time period.
IA is required by State Statute to complete an investigation within 45 days and forward findings to the Chief of Police or provide a valid reason to extend the proceedings. The Chief of Police will forward the finding to the CRB within three (3) working days after they are sent to the Chief.

C. The CRB Review
All complaints will be brought before the CRB for review and determination.

1. The CRB will review IA’s findings to determine if the file is complete and if the investigation is thorough, complete and fair.
2. The CRB will also review the Complainant’s response to IA’s findings. The Executive Director will contact the Complainant to find out if the Complainant is satisfied with the results of IA’s investigation. A letter affirming the Complainant’s position will be mailed to the Complainant.
3. The CRB will determine if mediation is appropriate, if there is a need for further investigation, inquiry or finally, a hearing.
4. The CRB chairperson may assign a member or committee to review internal affairs reports and make a recommended finding for full board discussion.
5. Findings
At the conclusion of each review or investigation, the CRB shall render one of the following findings based on the preponderance of the evidence:
a) Unfounded – where the review or investigation shows that the act or acts complained of did not occur or there is not credible evidence to support it;
b) Exonerated – where the acts that provide the basis for the complaint occurred, but the review or investigation shows such acts were proper and consistent with Departmental written directives;
c) Not Sustained – where the review or investigation fails to disclose sufficient facts to support the allegation made in the complaint;
d) Sustained – where the review or investigation discloses sufficient facts to prove the allegations made in the complaint and the action by the member is inconsistent with Departmental written directives;
e) No Finding – where the Complainant failed to produce information to further the investigation, the review or investigation revealed that another agency was responsible and the complaint has been referred to that agency, the Complainant withdrew the complaint, or the CRB did not reach a conclusion.
f) Not Involved – although the event in question may have occurred, the member accused or suspected was determined to not be involved.
g) Policy Deficiency – The allegation/suspicion is true, however, the member’s actions were consistent with Departmental written directives, which appear to provide insufficient or incorrect guidance and therefore, in need of amendment.
6. Disposition
At the conclusion of the review or investigation, the CRB shall forward its written findings and conclusions to the Chief of Police and to affected officers and, to the extent permitted by law, to the Complainants. The Chief of Police shall respond to the CRB within 30 days.

D. Other Review Options

1. Deferral
a) In order to protect the Complainants rights, it is the policy of the CRB to defer review of a complaint while there is pending criminal prosecution against the Complainant arising out of or relating to the allegations of the complaint. However, by majority vote, the CRB retains the right to review a complaint notwithstanding that criminal charges are pending against the Complainant.
b) If the subject matter of the complaint is under investigation by the Key West Police Department Internal Affairs department or agency having jurisdiction, or if it is the subject of pending criminal judicial proceedings, the complaint may be deferred and the matter shall remain pending until such proceedings have reached final disposition.
c) The Complainant shall be advised that if he or she is dissatisfied with the ultimate disposition of the matter by any such agency, department or governmental process, he or she may request the CRB to review the matter further.
d) Notwithstanding the above provisions, the CRB shall not be required to continue deferral of a complaint if such administrative investigation or proceedings have not reached final disposition within (90) days from the CRB’s receipt of the complaint. This section does not apply to criminal investigations by the State Attorney or to judicial proceedings.
2. Mediation
a) Mediation provides the Complainant and the subject officer an opportunity to meet in the presence of an independent, trained mediator, to express their concerns about an incident, to explain their view and to hear the other side. Participation in mediation is, in no way, intended to imply wrongdoing on the part of either individual; it merely provides a forum through which each can describe their perceptions of the interaction and explain their actions.
b) The mediation process is completely voluntary. Upon completion, the matter is forever closed.
3. Hearing
A hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the following:
a) The administrative hearing shall be open to the public.
b) The proceedings at the hearing shall be recorded and may be transcribed at the expense of the party requesting the transcript.
c) The hearing need not be conducted according to technical rules relating to evidence and witnesses. Any relevant evidence shall be admitted if the board finds it competent and reliable, regardless of the existence of any common law or statutory rule, which might make improper the admission of such evidence. Hearsay evidence may be used for the purpose of supplementing or explaining any direct evidence but shall be sufficient in itself to support a finding unless it would be admissible in civil actions. The rules of privilege shall be effective to the same extent that they are or may be recognized in civil actions. Irrelevant and unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded.
d) Absent the affirmative vote of the CRB to the contrary taken reasonably in advance of the hearing, only the CRB members and the CRB attorney will examine witnesses who testify at the hearing.
e) In an appropriate case as determined by the CRB by majority vote taken reasonably in advance of the hearing, the CRB may permit the officer complained against or the officer’s representative, the Complainant or the Complainant’s representative, and the KWPD or its representative to: (1) call and examine witnesses; (2) introduce evidence; (3) cross examine witnesses, and with respect to the officer complained against, offer evidence in rebuttal to evidence presented against the officer. At least ten days prior to the hearing, the Complainant, the police officer and the KWPD shall be advised in writing of the CRB’s decision to conduct the hearing in accordance with this subparagraph.
f) During the hearing, the Chairperson, or in his or her absence the Vice-Chairperson, shall preside over the hearing, and shall make evidentiary rulings with the advice and counsel of the CRB attorney. Each Board Member shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to examine witnesses
g) The CRB may subpoena witnesses and documents upon approval of the CRB attorney.
h) A decision shall be made by the Review Board by a majority of the entire board immediately following the close of the hearing.
i) The CRB shall send its finding to the City Manager and the Police Chief.

VIII. Independent Investigation
The CRB can take the position to investigate the complaint even if the Complainant accepts the findings of IA. If the CRB determines the need for further investigation, a letter advising of this decision will be sent to all parties. The CRB Executive Director will so notify all parties concerned so that the CRB will be afforded an opportunity to complete its investigation prior to the City acting upon the IA’s investigation. When a decision is made to commence an independent investigation of a complaint or, after review of an internal affairs report, the CRB may:

Request that the Chief of Police conduct further investigation; or
Obtain further case-specific information from the Chief of Police, including written materials, audio or videotapes and related documents and conduct an independent investigation. Such investigation to be concluded within 180 days or within a time period set by the CRB; or
Notice and hold a hearing to gather evidence if it deems it necessary.

IX. Coexistence with Police Benevolent Association
The CRB, in cooperation with the City of Key West and the sworn police officer’s representative, will attempt to coordinate its finding, conclusions and recommendations in a manner that is consistent with the existing collective bargaining agreement between the City of Key West and the Police Benevolent Association (PBA).