I. PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS EVERY TIME YOU COME INTO CONTACT WITH A POLICE OFFICER:
- GET YOUR CAMERA, VIDEO CAMERA, PHONE CAMERA
If you have any kind of advance notice that you will come into contact with a police officer, whether you have called them, or someone else has, or you see police arriving in your neighborhood, get your camera, phone camera, video camera, and get ready to take photos. (Always make sure your video camera is ready by keeping fresh batteries, charging your batteries, and having fresh tape, discs, SD cards, or whatever your camera uses to record into its memory.)
IS IT LEGAL TO RECORD OTHERS, INCLUDING OFFICERS?
- OK TO VIDEO AND PHOTOGRAPH: The law does not require permission to videotape or photograph officers.
- NOT OK to tape record phone conversations or interviews without prior permission.
II. INJURED BY POLICE OFFICER?
A. IF INJURIES ARE PHYSICAL:
- STEP 1:
HAVE SOMEONE YOU KNOW TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS OF INJURIES as soon after the injuries are inflicted as possible.
- STEP 2:
TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS OR VIDEO OF THE OFFICERS, IF POSSIBLE, EVEN AFTER THE INJURIES, AS THEY LEAVE THE AREA. Video should include their cars, license numbers, and actual officers, if possible.
- STEP 3:
VIDEO OR PHOTOGRAPH THE IMMEDIATE AREA WHERE THE ALTERCATION TOOK PLACE.
- STEP 4:
GO TO HOSPITAL OR DOCTOR’S OFFICE IMMEDIATELY TO SEEK TREATMENT. Have someone go with you with a pad of paper and pen to write down dates, times, and name of hospital, address, names of doctors, nurses, attendants, and people who you or the victim speaks with.
- STEP 5:
KEEP ALL HOSPITAL DOCUMENTS AND PHOTOS IN A SAFE PLACE.
- STEP 6:
MAKE 5 COPIES OF HOSPITAL DOCUMENTS: When able, make at least 5 copies of each document. (You keep all originals, Copies go to: keep one copy for yourself; a friend to hold onto, INTERNAL AFFAIRS complaint, Risk Claim with City or County, Small Claims lawsuit)
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS WHEN FILING A COMPLAINT AGAINST A FRESNO CITY POLICE OFFICER
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE A COMPLAINT AGAINST A FRESNO CITY POLICE OFFICER when you believe the police officer behaved improperly or abused you or someone in your family or if property was damaged.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO FILE THE COMPLAINT WITHOUT FEAR OF RETALIATION FROM THE POLICE. The purpose in filing a complaint is so that the police Department’s Internal Affairs can investigate to correct, discipline or terminate the officer(s) involved and to assist in documenting patterns and practices of the individual officers.
BE AWARE THAT THE FRESNO POLICE DEPARTMENT’S COMPLAINT FORM states that it is against the law if you knowingly filed a false complaint against a police officer. HOWEVER, IF YOU BELIEVE that your rights were violated by the police officer you are not knowingly filing a false complaint.
IF YOU WANT TO FILE A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE POLICE OFFICERS YOU MUST FILE A CLAIM AGAINST THE CITY OF FRESNO AND IT MUST BE DONE WITHIN SIX (6) MONTHS.
If you are convinced an officer violated your rights, and you have witnesses and evidence, but the police internal affairs investigation resulted in no action, and your pursuit of justice led to dead ends you should BE AWARE that aside from filing a police complaint YOU HAVE SIX (6) MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF THE INCIDENT TO FILE A CLAIM AGAINST THE CITY OF FRESNO IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO RECOVER ANY DAMAGES (MONEY) ARISING FOR THE INCIDENT. To do this you must ask for a claim form for damages from the risk management department located on the first floor of Fresno City Hall. YOU MUST FILE THE CLAIM FIRST IF YOUR INTENTIONS ARE TO FILE A LAWSUIT.
YOU CAN ALSO FILE A SMALL CLAIMS COURT LAWSUIT FOR LESS THAN $7,500.00 DAMAGES. In order to do this you must have first filed a claim for damages with the City of Fresno. You should document actual damages, (medical records, witness names and addresses, photographs, newspaper news accounts, bill of sales, appraisals) whether physical, emotional, financial, or by virtue of having had your constitutional rights violated by the police officers, or to replace damaged property to file with the claim or in court.
Tips when filing a complaint against a police officer in the city of Fresno.
- In addition to the main police department office and the four neighborhood stations complaint forms should also be available at the following locations in 4 languages.
- Highway City Community Center
- Cecil B. Hinton Center
- Mosqueda Center
- Ted C. Wills Center
- Stone Soup
- Einstein Playground
- Dickey Park
- Quigley Park
- Holmes Park
- Victoria West Park
- You can also file a complaint on the web.
- You can call in the complaint to the non emergency police number
- Make copies of your written complaints before handing it in. Provide names and phone Numbers of witnesses.
- Make sure that you get the complaint logged by insisting on getting a receipt when you hand carry it into the main police station on Mariposa and N Street.
- You will be receiving a call for an interview from a Sgt. who oversees the police officer about whom you are complaining.
- If the Sgt. is the same person you are complaining about you should ask to be interviewed by another officer.
- Make sure you do not go alone. Take a friend, pastor or one of CCCJC’s volunteers to go along with you. Make sure you take a tape recorder with you.
- The department’s policy is that they have to let you know what the status of your complaint is within 30 days. Keep calling the Sgt. if you do not receive any information or status about your complaint.
- If you continue to not receive a response, call his or her supervisor and Contact CCCJC about this problem.
- You should also send a copy of your complaint to your city council member to keep them informed.
This document is produced by: Central California Criminal Justice Committee