Sheriff’s Commentary: Who polices the police?

<em>Note: This is a commentary shared with CacheValleyDaily.com by the Cache County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to better expose the community to the inner workings of law enforcement.</em>

Policing in Cache County has changed dramatically over the past 150 years. What used to be the sheriff and one deputy has changed to the sheriff and roughly 120 deputies and other staff members. Be assured that the Sheriff’s Office takes the employment of deputies very serious. Pre-employment background investigations are conducted on each candidate to help ensure we are selecting the most qualified and professional people possible. Numerous policies and procedures give the deputy direction in performing his or her duties. Still, situations arise when a citizen feels the need to report issues they are uncomfortable with or have observed. Citizens should feel welcome, and even encouraged, to make these contacts. All supervisors in the Office are tasked with fielding citizen complaints. Citizens are encouraged to file their complaint in writing. Information is available on-line on the Sheriff’s Office web site, or they may come into the office to receive paperwork and to talk to a representative of the office. Once a complaint is received, a process of deciding the severity of the complaint is taken. Minor complaints are typically handled by the employee’s immediate supervisor. More serious complaints are referred to the Professional Standards Sergeant for a detailed investigation. The investigation focuses on finding the facts pertaining to the employee’s and the citizen’s actions, the thought process of all parties involved, and the employee’s intent. These factors are judged against State and Federal laws, Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures, and generally accepted law enforcement practices. Efforts are taken to keep complainants informed of the investigative process and notifications are made at the completion of the investigation. Investigation of complaints is a great resource for the Sheriff’s Office. It helps us keep informed of our employee’s performance, it can exonerate an employee from an erroneous complaint, it identifies training issues and educational opportunities for our employees and citizens, and it assists in policy and procedure reviews throughout the year along with many other benefits. Internal affairs statistics are posted on the Cache County Sheriff’s Office web page for anyone to look at. We are comfortable with our process of investigating complaints and feel it is truly a benefit to our employees and the citizens we serve.

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