How to Officially Commend or Complain about the Performance of a South Portland Police Department Employee

As a means of maintaining both police performance and police/community relations, the South Portland Police Department encourages citizen recommendations for police personnel who admirably perform their duties, and encourage feedback on the Department's performance or the actions of its members.

Commending Superior Performance

To commend the actions of a South Portland Police Department employee, you can:

  • Ask to speak with the Shift Commander and verbally communicate your praise; or,
  • Write a letter to the Chief of Police explaining your praise.

Commendations received by the Chief of Police for any South Portland Police Department employee result in the employee being advised of your gratitude and a permanent record of the employee's actions and your appreciation in the employee's personnel file. Depending on the situation, the employee could be considered for the other department or community awards recognition. Minimally, the employee is made aware of your kindness and appreciation.

When you have questions

The South Portland Police Department is committed to providing the best possible police service.Citizen cooperation and input is essential if the Department is to achieve this goal. If you have questions about any specific action taken by the Department or have a recommendation on how we can improve police services, you can do any one of the following:

  • Call the department at 799-5511 and ask for the Shift Commander Ext 7-7888.
  • If the matter concerns investigations, e-mail the Deputy Chief or call 799-5516 Ext 7-7231
  • E-mail the Chief of Police or call  at 799-5516 Ext 7-7230.

Your questions or recommendations can also be mailed to:

Chief Edward J. Googins
South Portland Police Department
30 Anthoine Street
South Portland, Maine  04106

The Internal Affairs Process

The goal of Internal Affairs is to ensure that the integrity of the department is maintained and that objectivity, fairness, and justice are ensured through an impartial investigation and review of each complaint brought to the Department's attention.  This process is in place for the protection of the public, the department and the officers.

If your complaint results in a formal investigation, the incident will be brought to the attention of the Chief of Police and a thorough, impartial, and confidential investigation will be conducted by Internal Affairs. The investigation will usually include the examination of physical evidence and interviews with the complainant, the witnesses, and the involved officers. After the allegations have been fully investigated, the Chief of Police will determine what actions, if any, should be taken to resolve the complaint.

The Complaint Process

There are two methods for investigating and resolving complaints against members of the Department. One method is informal, the other is formal.

Most complaints against employees can be resolved by the employee's supervisor. This is considered an informal investigation. In a Formal investigation, the officer's Shift Commander meets with the employee and then determines the appropriate action to take to resolve the complaint.

With more serious complaints of misconduct, the Shift Commander will take an initial statement from the complainant and then refer the incident to the Internal Affairs Unit for a formal investigation.

Filing a Complaint

The Shift Commander or a designee will meet with you privately, as soon as practical, to discuss your complaint. Your complaint will be received in a polite, professional manner, and you are expected to conduct yourself in a similar manner. If your conduct is considered inappropriate, the Shift Commander may insist that you return at another time to discuss the complaint.

You may also file a complaint by writing a letter directly to the Chief of Police. Your letter will be given appropriate attention; however, definite action can be taken only after a thorough investigation, and your cooperation with the investigation into your complaint will be needed to ensure proper handling of our mutual concerns.

While the South Portland Police Department does encourage citizens to file complaints, the complaints must be made in good faith. Should the investigation reveal that a complainant or witness made statements known or believed to be false, the Department could pursue criminal charges against that person.  Civil action against an untruthful complainant could also be pursued by the employee who is the subject of a false complaint

When you have a complaint

  • Ask to speak to the Shift Commander
  • Explain your complaint to the Shift Commander.     The Shift Commander will attempt to identify the exact nature of your complaint and the identity of those involved.
  • If appropriate, the Shift Commander will resolve the matter directly.
  • If Appropriate, or at your insistence, the Shift Commander will begin the formal Internal Affairs process.
  • An investigator from the Internal Affairs Unit will contact you to schedule an interview.
  • You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement stating that you understand the consequences of filing a false complaint.
  • You will be given a signed receipt indicating that your complaint has been received by the Internal Affairs Unit.
  • Once the Internal Affairs Unit has interviewed all those involved and gathered all the facts concerning your allegation, the matter will be presented to the Chief of Police.
  • The Chief of Police will determine, based on a preponderance of the evidence, whether or not the employee violated any of the rules and regulations of the South Portland Police Department.
  • If the Chief of Police finds that the employee did violate the rules and regulations of the Department, the employee will be disciplined in accordance with those rules and regulations.
  • Your complaint will be reviewed for indications of ways we can improve polices, procedures, or training.
  • You will receive written notification from the Chief of Police, regardless of the outcome.