When a complaint is received by the Community Review Board, it is forwarded to the San Diego Police Department Internal Affairs Department (IA) where it is reviewed, categorized and assigned for investigation.
- Category I Complaints (excessive force, improper arrest, discrimination, slurs and criminal conduct) are investigated by Internal Affairs.
- Category II Complaints (procedure, courtesy, service and conduct) are assigned to a supervisor and investigated in the command where the involved officer(s) works.
Complaints with both Category I and II complaints are investigated by IA.
When a Category I complaint is received by IA, it is assigned to a sergeant for investigation. The IA investigation includes interviews with the complainant, subject officers, witness officers, and civilian witnesses; review of body worn cameras and other videos; and examination of all relevant evidence. The investigator prepares a report with one of the following findings for each allegation:
- Sustained (the act occurred and violated SDPD policies and procedures)
- Exonerated (the act occurred but was justified, legal and proper)
- Not Sustained (there was insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation)
- Unfounded (the act did not occur)
The investigation report, recordings of interviews and all evidence are subjected to intense scrutiny by a team of three CRB 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 CRB team agrees with IA findings and sometimes it does not. When there is a disagreement, the CRB team confers with the IA investigator and supervisor to resolve the difference of opinion. Finally the CRB team prepares a report detailing their evaluation of the case and presents this report to the full CRB board. If the CRB and IA fail to agree on the findings, the CRB 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 CRB vote on each case, the CRB Chair sends a letter to all complainants informing them of the CRB's review and findings.
Sometimes in reviewing a case, the CRB may determine that SDPD policies and procedures should be changed or a new policy created. After evaluation by the CRB's Policy Committee, the CRB may make policy recommendations to the Chief of Police. For example, changes in the SDPD body worn camera policy were based on CRB input.
If the investigation results in one or more sustained findings, disciplinary action is imposed by the subject officer's commanding officer. The CRB receives notification of the discipline and indicates whether the discipline was appropriate and consistent with the SDPD Discipline Matrix.