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Office of Police Complaints Issues Its 50th Adjudicated Decision

Thursday, March 30, 2006

(Washington, DC) The Office of Police Complaints (OPC) recently issued its 50th decision that was adjudicated by a complaint examiner. This milestone underscores the importance of the agency's complaint adjudication process in fostering police accountability in Washington, DC.

In this particular decision (OPC 05-0228), the complaint examiner ruled that a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer, who was detailed to a high school, subjected a 15-year-old student to language that was insulting, demeaning, or humiliating while arresting her. The agency had previously dismissed the girl's claim that the officer used excessive or unnecessary force against her.

The agency has the authority to investigate, mediate, and adjudicate police misconduct complaints filed by the public against MPD and DC Housing Authority Police Department officers. OPC relies on complaint examiners to adjudicate these complaints.

The complaint examination process is used to resolve complaints where OPC's executive director has determined after the agency's investigation that there is a reasonable cause to believe that police misconduct occurred. When the executive director reaches this determination, the complaint is referred to a complaint examiner who reviews it, along with OPC's investigative report, and issues a written decision regarding the merits of the complaint. The complaint examiner may resolve the complaint based on OPC's investigative report alone, or, if necessary, may conduct an evidentiary hearing to further develop the factual record.

OPC's decisions are issued by independent complaint examiners, who have been approved by OPC's governing body, the Police Complaints Board. There are currently 17 complaint examiners.

"The District of Columbia is fortunate to have a talented, distinguished, and diverse pool of attorneys who live in the city to serve as the agency's complaint examiners," said Philip K. Eure, OPC's executive director. "They all work or have worked, in government, non-profit organizations, the private sector, and academia."

If a complaint examiner sustains any allegation in a complaint, the executive director forwards the written decision to the Chief of Police for review and imposition of discipline.

To access all the complaint examiner decisions issued by OPC, please visit our Complaint Examiner Decisions Page at the link below:

In addition, these decisions are currently available in the online legal database maintained by LexisNexis, and will soon be carried by Westlaw.

For more information about OPC's complaint examination program, contact Melanie Deggins at (202) 727-3838.