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Commission on Police Practices

Investigation Process


Your case will be assigned to an investigating supervisor. They will talk to you about your complaint and explain the process. You have the option of an Informal or Formal complaint resolution.

A Formal investigation will be classified as either a Category-I or a Category-II complaint based on the nature of the allegation. During a Formal investigation, you, the officer, and all witnesses will be interviewed. All physical evidence will also be examined. For all Category-I complaints, the complete investigation will be reviewed by Commission on Police Practices (CPP). At the conclusion of the CPP’s review and deliberation of the case, a letter will be sent to you notifying you of the CPP’s conclusion. A the conclusion of CAT-I or CAT-II investigations, the Department will notify you of the results via mail. The investigation will be retained in the Internal Affairs Unit for at least five years in accordance with State law.

In Informal investigations, the supervisor will conduct a preliminary investigation, address your concerns directly with the officer, and document the incident with a memorandum in the case file. All records will be retained in the Internal Affairs Unit for five years. No further investigation will take place unless the employee’s Commanding Officer determines additional investigation is warranted.

For Formal complaints, both SDPD and the CPP will send you a letter with the results at the completion of their respective investigation and review. Each allegation will be assigned one of four possible findings. In the CPP’s review, each allegation will be reviewed and the CPP will either agree or disagree with SDPD’s conclusion.

The four possible conclusions are:

  1. Sustained: All or part of the act occurred.
  2. Not Sustained: There was not enough evidence to clearly prove or disprove the allegation.
  3. Unfounded: The act did not occur.
  4. Exonerated: The act occurred, but was justified, legal and proper.

CPP Review

The investigation report, recordings of interviews and all evidence are subjected to intense scrutiny by a team of three CPP members. During the review cycle, the team looks carefully to ensure the investigation was thorough, that it was handled fairly and impartially, and that the stated findings are consistent with the facts of the case. Sometimes the CPP team agrees with IA findings and sometimes it does not. When there is a disagreement, the CPP team confers with the IA investigator and supervisor to resolve the difference of opinion. Finally the CPP team prepares a report detailing their evaluation of the case and presents this report to the full CPP board. If the CPP and IA fail to agree on the findings, the CPP may request further investigation be conducted to resolve any unanswered questions or send the case to the Mayor who makes the final determination. Following the CPP vote on each case, the CPP Chair sends a letter to all complainants informing them of the CPP's review and findings.

Sometimes in reviewing a case, the CPP may determine that SDPD policies and procedures should be changed or a new policy created. After evaluation by the CPP's Policy Committee, the CPP may make policy recommendations to the Chief of Police. For example, changes in the SDPD body worn camera policy were based on CPP input.


If the investigation results in one or more sustained findings, disciplinary action is imposed by the subject officer's commanding officer. The CPP receives notification of the discipline and indicates whether the discipline was appropriate and consistent with the SDPD Discipline Matrix. If the officer’s actions were improper, they will be subject to discipline. However, the law (832.7 P.C.)prohibits telling you what specific disciplinary action was taken against the officer(s).