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  1. #1
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    Default Are Complaints About Police Made Part of the Public Record

    Hi:

    (State of PA) We had an "event" here, and the police were involved. I did not like the way it was handled, the cops involved acted poorly. I wanted to complain to the chief of police (via letter) of the suburban township involved. Would that complaint become a public record?

    I would like to know the compensation of the officers involved. I believe that LEO salary is public information... how would I go about getting this? Also, can I get total compensation information (benefits, health insurance, etc.)? Can I get this information for, say, the past 5 years, such as actual pay/compensation received, (including overtime)?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Complaint About Police, Leo Compensation - Public Record (Pa)

    Quote Quoting trevor463
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    Hi:

    (State of PA) We had an "event" here, and the police were involved. I did not like the way it was handled, the cops involved acted poorly. I wanted to complain to the chief of police (via letter) of the suburban township involved. Would that complaint become a public record?
    More than likely, yes. But, if the Chief chooses not to place it into any public record and, instead, chooses to save it or toss it, then, no.

    If you want it to be a matter of public record, perhaps you should consider making your complaint before the Town Council (or whatever governing body might exist). If you want there to be some form of action taken, you may have to look into the agency's personnel complaint procedure. Simply whining to the town council or writing a nasty letter may not result in any form of action against the involved officers ... assuming, of course, that whatever they might have done is actionable in the first place.

    I would like to know the compensation of the officers involved. I believe that LEO salary is public information... how would I go about getting this? Also, can I get total compensation information (benefits, health insurance, etc.)? Can I get this information for, say, the past 5 years, such as actual pay/compensation received, (including overtime)?

    Thanks!
    Wage and salary information is generally public information. If not available online somewhere, then you can make a Right to Know request to the agency.

    https://www.openrecords.pa.gov/Docum...ttoknowlaw.pdf

    Why is their compensation important to you? It should have no real bearing on the nature of the complaint.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Complaint About Police, Leo Compensation - Public Record (Pa)

    Quick response for now:

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    If you want it to be a matter of public record,
    No, I don't, at this time.

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    Why is their compensation important to you?
    Cops that are likely paid somewhere between well and very well should be expected to be professional, or at least competent. A chief (and a town council) would be very aware of that. As a resident and taxpayer, I certainly am.

    Thanks.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Complaint About Police, Leo Compensation - Public Record (Pa)

    What was the "event" and why were the police involved?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Complaint About Police, Leo Compensation - Public Record (Pa)

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    What was the "event" and why were the police involved?
    The police were summoned by me. The "event" is largely irrelevant and is way, way more than I care to get into.

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    But, if the Chief chooses not to place it into any public record and, instead, chooses to save it or toss it, then, no.
    I guess that might be part of the question... is the chief required to file or retain the complaint? Would he even have the option of tossing it, either under law or under township administrative procedure?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Complaint About Police, Leo Compensation - Public Record (Pa)

    Quote Quoting trevor463
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    No, I don't, at this time.
    If you do not want your complaint to be a matter of public record, then don't bother writing anything. Anything you write to a city official may well become a matter of public record.

    Cops that are likely paid somewhere between well and very well should be expected to be professional, or at least competent. A chief (and a town council) would be very aware of that. As a resident and taxpayer, I certainly am.
    Wow! Between "well" and "very well"? That might be an anomaly. But, you really wouldn't need to search very much for pay scales and benefits. There is likely an MOU, position descriptions, or a variety of other sources that can tell you what an officer can make in your town.

    Of course, it could be entirely possible that your interpretation of the officers' actions is not entirely congruous with their responsibilities. Though, its impossible to say since we lack any details of the incident to which you seem to be ticked off about.

    Quote Quoting trevor463
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    The police were summoned by me. The "event" is largely irrelevant and is way, way more than I care to get into.
    Well, their response IS relevant, and absent details it is impossible to opine as to whether the officers performed in an appropriate manner. Many people have a misunderstanding of what an officer is expected or even allowed to do while on a call. I could provide a litany of examples just off the top of my head from personal experience in a week's time if need be.

    I guess that might be part of the question... is the chief required to file or retain the complaint? Would he even have the option of tossing it, either under law or under township administrative procedure?
    If you file a personnel complaint using the procedures outlined by your agency/township/state law, it should be part of some official record. How open personnel complaints are to public scrutiny in your state, I cannot say. But, a letter to the Chief or other city official complaining about the service you received may NOT be sufficient to serve as a complaint to be investigated. Further, while such correspondence probably SHOULD be a matter of public record, it is entirely possible that the letter may never be retained as a matter of public correspondence, or simply not made available to the public.

    If you want to complain, check with the agency or the city on the process. If you simply want to chat with the Chief or another supervisor at the department, call them and ask for a sit-down. Maybe they can explain what their officers did and why they did it, and whether or not it was appropriate and why.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Complaint About Police, Leo Compensation - Public Record (Pa)

    Quote Quoting trevor463
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    Quick response for now:



    No, I don't, at this time.



    Cops that are likely paid somewhere between well and very well should be expected to be professional, or at least competent. A chief (and a town council) would be very aware of that. As a resident and taxpayer, I certainly am.

    Thanks.
    I'm curious: at what level is a salary low enough that an officer would NOT be expected to be professional or competent?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Complaint About Police, Leo Compensation - Public Record (Pa)

    I'm curious as to what the OP considers "paid well or very well." for cops?. I'm betting anything over burger flipping money will be considered by the OP as "very well".

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Complaint About Police, Leo Compensation - Public Record (Pa)

    I too, am curious as to what OP means when he says he wishes to complain because he doesn't like how his event was handled and that the police acted poorly. Is he alleging actual misconduct on the part of the police or merely expressing a philosophical disagreement as to how they went about their jobs?

    To the OP (and FWIW): 10 people can witness a police activity and give you 10 different opinions as to how they think things could have been handled better. That doesn't mean the police acted improperly. Disciplinary action is not taken against them simply because a member of the public is unhappy with what they did. Only when the police violate the law, or department rules, policy, directives, or the instructions of a superior are they liable for punishment.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Complaint About Police, Leo Compensation - Public Record (Pa)

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    If you do not want your complaint to be a matter of public record, then don't bother writing anything. Anything you write to a city official may well become a matter of public record.
    Some things DO become a matter a public record, and that is my question regarding a complaint to the police chief.

    Other things DO NOT become public record. Indeed, some things are required to be kept confidential.

    I suppose still other things fall into a gray area.

    Of course, anything you write can, rightly or wrongly, be released, shared, circulated, published, etc.. You takes your chances...

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    But, you really wouldn't need to search very much for pay scales and benefits. There is likely an MOU, position descriptions, or a variety of other sources that can tell you what an officer can make in your town.
    I was looking for specific information as regards the officer(s) involved.

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    Well, their response IS relevant, and absent details it is impossible to opine as to whether the officers performed in an appropriate manner......
    Quote Quoting L-1
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    To the OP (and FWIW): 10 people can witness a police activity and give you 10 different opinions as to how they think things could have been handled better. That doesn't mean the police acted improperly.....
    Folks, you have wandered off the trail here. I wasn't looking for input as to whether the police acted improperly. I have decided that, IMO and FWIW, the police misbehaved, and wish to file a complaint.

    Quote Quoting Shadowbunny
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    I'm curious: at what level is a salary low enough that an officer would NOT be expected to be professional or competent?
    Ideally, all police should be professional and competent. Practically, it does not happen. The same could be said for accountants, plumbers, kitchen help, etc.

    As with most other professions, higher compensation will TEND to attract and allow the hire/retention of better people. And people who are more highly paid are usually expected to perform at a higher level.

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    If not available online somewhere, then you can make a Right to Know request to the agency.

    https://www.openrecords.pa.gov/Docum...ttoknowlaw.pdf
    Thank you for the link. I have seen it before and remembered it being applicable, so you saved me the few minutes to hunt it down again.

    Of interest, from the document:

    Chapter 7, Section 708 (Exceptions for public records.)

    (b) Exceptions. Except as provided in subsections (c) and (d), the following are exempt from access by a
    requester under this act:
    ....

    (7) The following records relating to an agency employee:
    ....
    (vi) Written criticisms of an employee.


    Also:

    (17) A record of an agency relating to a noncriminal investigation, including:

    (i) Complaints submitted to an agency.


    Thanks.

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