"The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to serving the needs of the community while respecting the rights of citizens and Sheriff employees. Every year, Sheriff’s Office personnel are confronted with a variety of situations, some of which may be very volatile. Given the large number of contacts, there may be occasions where citizens feel they did not receive the service expected, or possibly were not treated respectfully or professionally. The Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to serving Clark County and all citizen complaints will be investigated. The purpose of this brochure is to explain the process of initiating a complaint against the Sheriff’s Office or employee of the Sheriff’s Office and what transpires after a complaint has been made." —Sheriff Garry Lucas
Initiating a Complaint or Complimentary Report
Any citizen may initiate a complaint or compliment on a Sheriff’s Office employee by contacting an on-duty supervisor. Supervisors may be contacted at any of the precinct offices or at the Clark County Law Enforcement Center. Complaints and compliments may be reported regarding any employee of the Sheriff’s Office including deputies, custody officers or office personnel.
- West Precinct - (360) 397-6079
505 NW 179th St., Ridgefield, WA
- Law Enforcement Center - (360) 397-2211
707 West 13th St., Vancouver, WA
Citizens may also contact the Internal Affairs Unit directly by calling (360) 397-2019 or (360) 397-2416; or by emailing the appropriate person below.
- Enforcement issues - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Custody issues - email@example.com
- Sheriff's Office - Sheriff@clark.wa.gov
Citizens will be asked to complete a written statement outlining the details of their complaint or compliment.
Though citizens are encouraged to report concerns, the Sheriff’s Office cautions citizens not to maliciously accuse employees. Sustained complaints may adversely affect an employee’s livelihood. Sustained malicious accusations could result in civil litigation against the reporting party by the injured employee. Your kind consideration is appreciated.
Types of Complaints
The Sheriff’s Office defines the categories of complaints as:
Minor Complaint: A complaint which deals with an officer’s attitude or demeanor.
Major Complaint: Complaint of a serious nature which may involve the use of force, criminal conduct, false arrest or any other serious matter.
Service Complaint: Complaints regarding the level of service delivered. These complaints may involve failure to respond to a call for service, or an officer’s failure to make a report.
When a complaint of a minor nature is received, it will be referred to the employee’s immediate supervisor to conduct the investigation. The investigation may involve all parties or witnesses to the allegation being contacted and interviewed. Following completion of the investigation, the supervisor will forward the report to the Internal Affairs Unit via chain of command. It is department policy that all complaints be investigated within (30) days of receipt. However, the timeline may be extended if necessary to thoroughly conduct the investigation. Supervisors may impose discipline up to a written reprimand.
Major Complaint investigations will be conducted by Internal Affairs investigators. Complaints of a criminal nature will necessitate a criminal investigation, independent of the internal investigation. Investigations completed by, or referred to, the Internal Affairs Unit will be forwarded to the Board of Inquiry.
Service complaint investigations may be assigned to supervisory personnel or the Internal Affairs Unit.
Board of Inquiry
The Board of Inquiry (BOI) comprised of employee elected Sheriff’s Office employees is granted the responsibility to review Internal Affairs investigations for thoroughness. The accused employee may appear before the BOI to present additional evidence or witnesses. The BOI may send the investigation back to Internal Affairs for further investigation or approve the investigation. Once the investigation is approved, a finding of one of the following recommendations will be made:
- Exonerated: The action was within department policy or procedure.
- Sustained: The allegation did occur.
- Not Sustained: Insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation.
- Unfounded: The complaint had no basis of fact and did not occur.
- Not Involved: The accused employee was not involved.
The BOI will forward its finding to the respective Branch Chief of the accused employee who makes a disciplinary recommendation. The Branch Chief may, however, also refer the investigation back to the Internal Affairs Unit for additional information.
If an employee receives discipline as a result of a complaint, the employee may exercise certain rights granted by Civil Service Rules and collective bargaining agreement. Disciplinary appeals may be taken to arbitration and ultimately to Superior Court.
A letter, explaining the results of the investigation and disciplinary process, will be sent to the complainant. If the complainant is not satisfied with the results of the investigation, an appeal may be made to the Sheriff for review of the investigation.
The Sheriff’s Office welcomes citizen comment on how we may better serve the needs of our community.
View the annual Statistical Report on Internal Affairs Activities (PDF).