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Professional Standards Unit

The Boulder Police Department is committed to providing quality, responsive service in its efforts to work in partnership with the community to improve the quality of life in Boulder.

We encourage your feedback as we strive to maintain our high standards, and welcome your recommendations about the service we provide, your commendations of police employee performance, or your complaints about the actions of any department member.

Information about the Professional Standards Unit is available by brochure in either English or Spanish. The brochures are located at the Public Safety Building, at any of our Community Police Centers and at the Municipal Building.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I commend an employee or file a complaint about an employee?

What happens when I file a complaint?

The Boulder Police Department investigates allegations of misconduct against any of its employees. Complaints of misconduct are classified as either minor or serious.  Allegations of minor misconduct may be investigated by the employee's supervisor and are referred to as a Supervisory Review. In such cases, the supervisor makes disposition recommendations to the Deputy Chief of Police. Allegations of serious misconduct, such as excessive force, abuse of authority, or criminal violations, are investigated by the department's Professional Standards Unit. Investigations of serious misconduct are referred to as Internal Affairs (IA) Investigations.

Once an IA investigation is completed, each supervisor in the employee's chain of command reviews the case and makes a recommendation for disposition.  The case is also reviewed by the IA Review Panel, which consists of both department and community members. The panel ensures that the investigative process was fair and complete, and provides a recommendation on the disposition of the case to the Chief of Police. After considering all of the input received, the Chief of Police makes the final decision on the disposition of the complaint.

What do the results of the investigation mean?

After the investigation, reviews, and recommendations have been completed, a disposition is made.  There are six possible dispositions in a Professional Standards Investigation at the Boulder Police Department, with the following explanations:

Exonerated           The incident occurred as reported, but department member actions were justified, lawful, and proper 
Exonerated with
Commendation
The incident occurred as reported, but department member actions were justified, lawful, and proper under cases of exceptional circumstances
Unfounded The complainant admits to false allegation; the charges were found to be false; the department member was not involved; or the complainant has voluntarily withdrawn the complaint prior to the conclusion of an investigation, and the department elects not to continue the investigation
Not Sustained An allegation is not supported by a preponderance of the evidence
Sustained An allegation is supported by a preponderance of the evidence
No Finding Cases when a subject department member resigns and the department elects not to continue the investigation

What if I am afraid to make a report?

If you are fearful or hesitant about filing a complaint, you may have a representative, friend, or other community member contact the police department on your behalf. However, in order for the police department to conduct the investigation, you must be willing to be interviewed by an investigator so that the department can understand firsthand your description of the events.

The issue of racial profiling in policing is one of national concern.  It undermines the public trust, creates fear, and violates fundamental principles of a just society. The Boulder Police Department subscribes to a policy that prohibits police actions that are based solely on reasons of race, ethnicity, gender, manner of dress, or other subjective criteria (the practice commonly referred to as "profiling").

A process is available to assist people who have questions about a police contact or who believe they have been "profiled" by police. You may contact the Professional Standards Unit directly at (303) 441-3312.

Some people who have been stopped or questioned by the police may not be comfortable contacting the police department themselves or may have questions about human rights or civil rights. In that case, you may also contact the City’s Community Relations and Office of Human Rights for assistance. They can provide referrals to community organizations for assistance to support you, Spanish language translation or mediation. The Community Relations and Office of Human Rights number is (303) 441-3141.

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