Police Handling of Citizen Complaints:  Data from the LEMAS survey

The Law Enforcement Management
and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) program of the Bureau of Justice Statistics

The LEMAS survey covers
a wide range of topics

The 2003 LEMAS survey includes
new questions on citizen complaints
involving officer use of force

Disposition categories for use-of-force complaints against officers

Complaints data from municipal police departments employing 100 or more officers were analyzed

Excluding pending cases, 9% of citizen complaints involving officer use of force were sustained

A fifth of departments had a CCRB in their jurisdiction.  About half required complaints to be investigated outside the chain of command in which the alleged incident occurred.

Almost all police departments allow an officer to appeal decisions in complaint cases, but just 37% allow citizen appeals

Complaint rates were higher when a CCRB and a outside investigation policy were in place

A larger percentage of complaints were sustained when complainant-friendly policies were in place