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Sunday, September 27, 2020

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UHPD allegation numbers increased, complaints decreased in 2019, report shows


Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

The 2019 UHPD Internal Affairs Deposition report shows that the total number of complaints filed against officers has decreased since 2018, but the total number of allegations has increased. 

Intended to provide information regarding citizen and internal allegations of police misconduct and investigation results, the document containing the previous year’s data is produced each February by the assistant police chief. 

Though it was created in February, the 2019 report did not become available on UHPD’s website until July. This was a technical issue rather than an administrative choice to withhold the information, UHPD Capt. Brett Collier said. 

“While not a requirement to post on our website … we have done that in the past as a public service,” UHPD Capt. Brett Collier said. “Reports are available back to 2013, which is when Chief Moore began voluntarily producing the report and providing it to the public for the sake of transparency.” 

To some students, UHPD displays a lack of transparency. Political science senior Maria Almaguer thinks that transparency is incredibly important to ensuring public safety. 

“Transparency from UHPD in the same way that transparency from any institution built to keep people safe is important; we have the right to know what is happening on campus,” Almaguer said. 

The report contains a summary of the complaints filed within a given year and a breakdown of the corrective action carried out as a result of the findings.

Complaints against a UHPD employee written and signed in accordance with Texas law must undergo a complete investigation by the department within 30 days of being received, according to UHPD policy. The submissions are sent to the Internal Affairs Investigative Unit for a full investigation or to the employee’s immediate supervisor for Supervisory Review. 

After being reviewed and assigned to the Internal Affairs Investigative Unit, the investigator will gather relevant data such as interviews from concerned parties and witnesses in order to make a decision in the case. Once the investigation has concluded, it is reviewed by the assistant chief of police and the chief of police. 

Incidents related to employee performance issues rather than misconduct undergo Supervisory Review instead of an internal affairs investigation. Similar to internal affairs investigations, these reviews may result in disciplinary action if deemed necessary. 

At the end of a complaint investigation, the complaint is classified as one of six categories based on the investigator’s findings. These categories include sustained, which indicates sufficient evidence to prove some or all of the allegations in the complaint, and unsustained, which indicates insufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the allegations. 

In 2019, 66 allegations were sustained in comparison with 83 from 2018. In the same year, 12 allegations were not sustained in comparison with seven from 2018. 

A sustained allegation results in a review of the facts in the investigation by the investigated employee’s chain of command. Ultimately, the chief of police decides what disciplinary action will be taken, if any is to be taken at all. 

The types of discipline administered by UHPD in the event of sustained allegations include informal counseling and warning, written reprimand, suspension without pay, demotion, re-assignment and termination. 

The majority of corrective action taken in 2019 and 2018 was comprised of informal counseling and a warning or did not entail any discipline at all. 

In 2019, 57 employees received informal counseling or a warning, while 37 received no discipline at all. This compares to 42 and 28 in 2018, respectively.

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