Civilian Complaint

Personnel Complaint Procedure


The Woodland Police Department’s complaint procedure helps both the community and the police. A positive relationship between the police and the public they serve, fostered by confidence and trust, are essential to effective law enforcement. While the police are charged with vigorous enforcement of the law, they must meticulously observe the rights of all people. Police personnel, at the same time, must be free to take action in a reasonable, lawful, and impartial manner without fear of reprisal.

It is important, therefore, that adequate provisions be made for the prompt receipt, investigation and disposition of complaints regarding the conduct of department personnel. To this end, the Woodland Police Department welcomes criticism of the department and valid complaints against its members or procedures. The purpose of Internal Affairs is to ensure complete, fair, and impartial investigations of civilian complaints.

Investigation Procedure

The person receiving your concern will ask you to provide as much information as possible regarding the incident. If you were involved in or witnessed the incident, it is extremely important to the investigation that a statement is obtained from you. From your statement, a Civilian Contact form may be completed. If your concern stems from an arrest or citation issued to a family member or yourself, it may not be investigated until the legal matter has been settled.

Depending on the circumstances of your concern, it may be investigated in one of two ways. It will either be forwarded to the member’s supervisor for inquiry or to Internal Affairs for investigation. Each allegation is examined on its own merits. Formal investigations require investigators to contact all available witnesses, including police officers, examine any relevant physical evidence, and gather all information pertinent to each allegation made in the complaint.

The Chief of Police will render a finding in each case. There are four possible findings:

  • Exonerated - The act which provided the basis for the complaint did occur; however, investigation revealed the act was justified, lawful and proper.
  • Not Sustained - The investigation failed to reveal enough evidence to clearly prove or disprove the allegation.
  • Sustained - The investigation disclosed enough evidence to clearly prove the allegation.
  • Unfounded - The investigation has produced sufficient evidence to prove that the act or acts alleged did not occur. This finding shall also apply when individual personnel named in the complaint were not involved in an act that did occur.

You will be notified of the finding in writing at the conclusion. When a finding of Sustained is determined, corrective action will be taken. The type of corrective action imposed is subject to the provisions of the Charter of the City of Woodland, the rules of the Civil Service Board and, when appropriate, upon approval of the City Manager. Discipline may include counseling, training, and action up to and including termination. If your complaint is sustained and punitive discipline is imposed, the employee has appeal rights. Therefore, you may be required to testify at one or more administrative proceedings. All discipline is considered part of the employees personnel file and is deemed confidential.


Your valid concerns and criticisms help us protect the community from possible misconduct by employees. At the same time, a thorough and impartial investigation procedure helps protect employees from unwarranted charges when they perform their duties properly.

Per recommendations from the California Department of Justice and California Penal Code Section 832.5 (a): "Each department or agency in this State which employs peace officers shall establish a procedure to investigate citizens’ complaints against the personnel of such departments or agencies, and shall make a written description of the procedure available to the public."

Penal Code Section 148.6 (b) states that any law enforcement agency accepting a concern of misconduct against a peace officer shall require the complainant to read and sign the following information advisory:

You have the right to make a complaint against a police officer for any improper police conduct. California law requires this agency to have a procedure to investigate citizens’ complaints. You have a right to a written description of this procedure. This agency may find after investigation that there is not enough evidence to warrant action on your complaint; even if that is the case, you have the right to make the complaint and have it investigated if you believe an officer behaved improperly. Citizen complaints must be retained by this agency for at least five years. It is against the law to make a complaint that you know to be false. If you make a complaint against an officer knowing that it is false, you can be prosecuted on a misdemeanor charge.

You may complete the online Civilian Complaint form here: CIVILIAN COMPLAINT FORM or you may view the Complaint Form (PDF). Forms are also available in the Woodland Police Department lobby at 1000 Lincoln Ave., Woodland, CA 95695.