How are complaints made?
It is the policy of the Santa Clara Marshal’s Office to courteously receive and investigate complaints concerning its employees.
A person desiring to make a complaint may contact a Marshal supervisor at (830) 542-7201.
Persons desiring to make a complaint must understand the importance of submitting their complaint in writing with their signature affixed. The Texas Government Code, Section 614.022, provides that all complaints to be considered against law enforcement officers must be in writing and signed by the person making the complaint.
Persons complaining orally, or by email, will be requested to submit their complaint in writing with their signature affixed if the complaint is on a law enforcement officer.
A person refusing to make a written complaint or who makes an anonymous complaint does not necessarily prevent an investigation from being initiated on the facts provided, but does cause the matter to be more difficult to process to an effective conclusion.
Upon receipt of a complaint, the investigator will contact the complainant to inform them that the complaint will be investigated and discuss in detail the allegation(s) made against the employee.
A complaint should be made in a timely manner after the incident so that the details are readily available to the investigator. The Texas Government Code, Section 614.022, provides that disciplinary action may not be taken against an officer unless the complaint is investigated and there is evidence to prove the allegation of misconduct. The Texas Local Government Code, Section 143.052, provides that the Police Department’s receipt of the complaint, investigation, and beginning of discipline of the officer must be completed within 180 days after the occurrence of the act. For criminal matters, the time frame is 180 days from the discovery of the act.
The Marshal’s Office will conduct a thorough investigation of your complaint and you will be notified of the results, and of any action taken. The Marshal’s Office does not investigate complaints concerning traffic citations or criminal charges when an individual’s guilt or innocence is the only issue in question. These cases will go through the appropriate court for disposition.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Marshal’s Office non-emergency number at (830) 239-5150 at any time and ask to speak to an on-duty supervisor.
On occasion, individuals make false complaints against police employees. Citizens are cautioned that this act is a violation of Texas Law. The Texas Penal Code, Section 37.02 provides punishment for an individual adjudged guilty of committing an offense if, with intent to deceive and with knowledge of the statement’s meaning:
A person makes a false statement under oath or swears to the truth of a false statement previously made: and the statement is required or authorized by law to be made under oath.
A person convicted under this Section can be punished by:
- a fine not to exceed $4,000.00;
- confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year; or
- both such fine and confinement.
This information is not intended to intimidate citizens or discourage valid complaints. It is intended to prevent false complaints against officers.
How long will the investigation take?
Most investigations are completed within thirty (30) days; however, legal review and supervisor’s review of the case is not included in this time period.
What happens when a complaint is found to be true?
If the investigation of a complaint reveals evidence to prove the allegation of misconduct is true and should be sustained against an employee, the Marshal’s Office will notify the employee of the finding. Depending on the nature of the violation, one or more of the following actions may be taken:
- Counsel with the employee
- Retrain the employee
- Reprimand the employee
- Suspend the employee
- Demote the employee
- Discharge the employee
Employees will be provided with written notice of any disciplinary action initiated. While progressive steps of discipline are encouraged, any of the discipline options may be exercised as the facts may warrant.
What happens if the complaint is found not to be true?
By law, employees must be afforded certain rights, the same as with all citizens. Complaints can be sustained only when supported by substantial evidence. If there is insufficient evidence to substantiate the complaint, no action will be taken against the employee.
Employees can appeal the decision.
Just as a citizen charged with a criminal offense can appeal a court decision, an employee may appeal an adverse administrative action. The Santa Clara Marshal has established procedures for employees to follow in their appeals, just as the agency has established procedures for ensuring the complaints by citizens against employees are thoroughly and honestly investigated.
What if you are not satisfied with the decision?
If you are not satisfied with the result of the investigation by The Marshal’s Office investigator, you may appeal to the office of the Chief Marshal.
The Santa Clara Marshal is vitally interested in taking action when it is determined our employees are derelict in their duties, guilty of wrongdoing, or in need of further training. Your complaint will be given a fair and thorough investigation.
Racial Profiling Complaints
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 2.132 Law Enforcement Policy on Racial Profiling, requires the department to provide public education on the racial profiling complaint process. To meet this requirement, the Santa Clara Marshal publishes the complaint process on the website.
Members of the Santa Clara Marshal’s Office will not engage in any activities that are discriminatory or indicative of the practices of racial profiling or bias-based profiling. Deputies will focus on the conduct of the individual and/or specific suspect information in taking police action. Individuals will not be targeted for enforcement action, detention, field contacts, asset seizure, and forfeiture efforts, or interdictions solely on the basis of race, ethnic background, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion