Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding the work of the Independent Police Auditor and the complaint and investigative process is crucial to building trust within the community. If you have additional questions that are not answered below, please reach out to our office for further clarification.
- What is the Mission and Purview of the Independent Police Auditor?
The Independent Police Auditor (IPA) was established by charter amendment in 2005 to provide an external mechanism for the independent receipt, classification, and routing of complaints against sworn and non-sworn EPD employees; contract for outside investigations when necessary; and provide monitoring of EPD internal investigations of allegations of misconduct and supervisors’ investigations of service complaints. The charter amendment also authorizes the auditor to make recommendations regarding adjudications, policies, and training to the Police Chief; prepare reports concerning complaint trends and police practices; and act as a liaison and staff support for a civilian review board. The IPA provides services in an efficient, clear, and accessible manner, and is committed to the mission of transparency and accountability for police services in Eugene. Eugene City Code 2.450-2.456 further details the Auditor’s Office functions.
- What are the functions of the Independent Police Auditor?
In summary, the Independent Police Auditor’s duties and responsibilities include:
- Complaint intake
- To ensure access and safety, the IPA has a wide variety of ways to receive complaints including phone, email, website, walk-in and via mail. Complaints can be generated externally by community members (including anonymous and third-party complaints), internally by EPD staff, or by the auditor.
- Classifying complaints
- The authority to classify complaints rests with the Police Auditor alone. This classification determines the path of investigation for each complaint. The Auditor may also dismiss complaints if, for example, it falls outside the jurisdiction of the IPA, isn’t timely (as defined by City Code), or is better remedied in an alternate venue such as the courts.
- Monitoring investigations
- The IPA actively monitors investigations and has complete access to all reports, body-worn and in-car video footage, call logs, dispatch records, e-mail correspondence, and interviews with witnesses and involved parties.
- Recommending adjudications, policy changes, and training
- Based on review of investigatory materials, the Auditor makes a recommendation on how the complaint should be adjudicated. These recommendations are documented in adjudication memos that are shared with the Chief and chain of command at EPD. The Auditor can also recommend changes to EPD policy and training.
- Reporting to the community
- Community complainants receive a closing letter informing them of the classification and outcome of their complaint. The Civilian Review Board selects cases to publicly review and receives monthly updates on intakes and closed cases; finally, the IPA generates an annual report detailing complaints and outcomes from the previous calendar year.
- Supporting a civilian review board
- Complaint intake
- Why does the Independent Police Auditor matter?
Police have authority that no one else has. By auditing investigations into claims of police misconduct and ensuring that those investigations are fair and thorough, we help keep EPD accountable to the community it serves. The Independent Police Auditor also staffs the Civilian Review Board, a volunteer group of residents representing the interests of the community that evaluates the work of the Auditor’s Office and provides transparency into the oversight process.
- Is the Independent Police Auditor part of the Eugene Police Department?
No, the Independent Police Auditor is not part of the Eugene Police Department. We answer to the legislative branch of City government: the Mayor and City Council. The Civilian Review Board is also appointed by City Council. The Chief of Police and EPD answer to the City Manager, the executive branch of our City government. This separation of powers supports the independence of the Auditor’s office.
- Why should I trust the Independent Police Auditor and the Civilian Review Board?
Both are independent agencies established by charter that represent community interests. Only the voters of Eugene may change the charter. The Independent Police Auditor is free to agree or disagree with the decisions of the EPD and makes recommendations directly to the City Council. The CRB is in place to ensure the Auditor’s Office is doing its job and to increase public confidence in the oversight process.
- What is the difference between the Independent Police Auditor and the Civilian Review Board?
The City of Eugene’s Civilian Oversight System is a hybrid model consisting of the Independent Police Auditor and the Civilian Review Board. The IPA oversees and monitors all investigations, participates in interviews and has access to all evidence related to the incident. Their independence, funding, and access are protected in City Code and staff report to City Council,
The Civilian Review Board is a board of 7 volunteers appointed by City Council who meet on a monthly basis to review completed complaint investigations involving sworn officers. The CRB’s role is to evaluate the work of the Independent Police Auditor and provide a community perspective on how complaints are being handled, as well as to instill public trust in the oversight process.
- Where can I learn more about the work the Independent Police Auditor does?
Links to the Charter section and ordinance regarding the Police Auditor and the Civilian Review Board are available on the History and Structure section of our webpage. The Independent Police Auditor publishes an annual report and monthly newsletter. You can also follow our social media pages to receive reminders about upcoming CRB meetings, presentations & events, and more.
- Can I request that the Police Auditor share additional information about the civilian oversight system?
Yes! We love connecting with our community, sharing information about our process, and answering any questions you may have. Staff from our office are always available to attend meetings and trainings, table at community events, or answer any media inquiries. Please email us-- We look forward to hearing from you!
- What is a complaint?
A complaint is a statement from you explaining why you think an EPD officer or employee did something wrong – or even a question about how a police interaction was handled. City Code defines a complaint as: “An expression of dissatisfaction, allegation of misconduct, or question about a police employee’s conduct, police services provided or not provided, or police department policies or practices in general.” E.C.C. 2.452
- Who can file a complaint?
Any member of the public can file a complaint regardless of age, language, immigration status, or where you reside. Complaints can also be submitted anonymously or through a third party. If you are a defendant in a criminal case you can still file a complaint, but if the case is related to the incident you are sharing with us, we recommend consulting with your lawyer first.
- How long do I have to file a complaint?
For complaints of minor misconduct (for example, courtesy or minor performance issues), or for inquiries, you have 60 days to submit a complaint. Incidents alleging major misconduct can be submitted up to 6 months after the incident. We encourage complainants to come forward as soon as possible to ensure that your complaint is not dismissed due to timeliness.
- What if I don’t know which policy may have been violated or simply have a question about something that I saw?
There are many policies officers must follow and you don’t need to know them all. If you have a question about whether a certain kind of behavior by an officer is against EPD policy, you can contact our office to ask.
- What if I don’t have a conduct complaint against any officer, but I don’t like a pattern I see with the police?
You can file a policy complaint. Policy complaints are not requests for individual officers to be investigated, rather, a request for EPD to evaluate its policies or procedures, or to adopt new ones.
- Do I have to know the officer’s name or badge number?
No. If provided with other incident information, such as date, time, and location, we should be able to identify any involved officers.
- How can I file a complaint?
Multiple venues exist for filing complaints and commendations. Our community public portal allows for you to submit complaints and commendations electronically, while also providing opportunity to attach any additional media, such as pictures or video. You can also check on the status of your complaint by inputting your reference ID number at the top of the page.
Other ways to submit complaints or commendations include:
- What should I expect after filing a complaint?
Once a complaint has been filed, a preliminary investigation will be completed by the Auditor to determine its classification. You will receive a notice from our office letting you know how it has been classified. Once classified, it will be forwarded to the appropriate party for investigation. If it is a service-level complaint, the supervisor of the involved employee(s) will look into the matter by following up with the involved officer(s) and calling you to provide you an opportunity to share your experience and learn the results of their investigation. Higher-level allegation investigations are typically handled by Internal Affairs. The Auditor actively monitors the investigation and participates in any employee interviews conducted. A memo is completed by both the EPD chain of command and the Independent Police Auditor detailing the investigative steps taken and adjudication recommendations. The Chief has final authority to adjudicate and impose discipline. All complainants receive a closing letter explaining the result of the investigation. The Civilian Review Board may review any closed case involving a sworn employee. For more information, please visit the Investigation Process section of this page.
- How can I check on the status of my complaint?
If your complaint was submitted through our community portal, you will be provided with a reference ID number that you can enter at the top of the page to see the status of your complaint or come back to a draft complaint. You are also welcome to call our office if you have any questions throughout the complaint process.
- What do the different complaint classifications mean?
- Allegation of Criminal Conduct
- Criminal Investigation typically conducted by another agency
- Prosecutorial Review (to determine whether prosecution will occur)
- Administrative Review/Re-classification following close of criminal matter
- Allegation of Misconduct
- Complaint alleging serious misconduct/major policy violation
- Incident Review
- This classification was added in 2016 and is defined in Eugene Police Policy 1020 – Personnel Complaints
- A preliminary fact-finding investigation, not including an interview with the involved employee when serious misconduct has been alleged.
- Question regarding a department policy, procedure, or regulation, or regarding employee conduct that would not qualify as a personnel complaint
- A complaint may also be classified as an inquiry if it is a service-level complaint, but the Auditor would like additional investigation to determine the underlying facts.
- Service Complaint
- Complaint of minor misconduct related to police performance or demeanor, customer service and/or level of police service
- Policy Complaint
- Complaint about an EPD policy or procedure (not specific to an employee)
- Community Impact Case
- Complaint alleging excessive force, bias, disparate treatment, or a violation of constitutional rights, which the Auditor recommends and CRB agrees to review as a CIC
- Procedure set out in subsection (4) of Eugene City Code 2.244
- Allegation of Criminal Conduct
- Does it matter whether I file a complaint?
Yes, it does matter. By speaking out about a possible problem with an officer, you are alerting the EPD leadership and the Independent Police Auditor about ways to improve the Eugene Police Department. Coming forward with incidents, however small they may be, can also help us identify patterns of behavior and/or policies that should be addressed.
- Will I have more problems with the police if I file a complaint?
The Eugene Police Department has strict rules that prohibit officers from retaliating against complainants (See Section 184.108.40.206 of EPD Policy 103 – Standards, Duties, and Conduct). If you feel that you are being targeted because of a complaint, please let us know so that we can help; retaliation would be a form of major misconduct that we would want to investigate and help address.
- Why was my complaint dismissed?
The closing letter you receive from our office will specify the reason for dismissal.
Reasons for dismissal can include:
- If your complaint is submitted after the 60-day window (for service-level complaints) or 6-month window (for allegations)
- Outside Jurisdiction
- If your complaint involves anyone other than a Eugene Police department employee
- Previously Reviewed
- If your complaint has already been reviewed and closed and you are not sharing any new or relevant information about the incident
- Employee Not Identifiable
- If you cannot provide enough information to identify the involved employee
- Can I file a complaint against an officer who is not with the Eugene Police Department?
No. Our office only has jurisdiction of the Eugene Police Department and its employees. Complaints regarding other law enforcement agencies will be dismissed and referred to the corresponding agency. Please visit our Other Police Conduct Resources section for further information about other local law enforcement agencies’ complaint processes.
- I have been charged with a crime. Will filing a complaint affect the criminal case against me?
No. The complaint you filed with us is completely separate from your criminal case. Our office cannot advise or represent you on any legal matter. We would recommend that anyone involved in a criminal matter seek the advice of an attorney. The court is the proper venue for determining guilt or innocence, as well as other constitutional issues (such as whether probable cause supported your arrest).
- What happens after I file a complaint with the Independent Police Auditor?
When our office receives your complaint, we first perform a preliminary investigation to help us with classification. If a complaint is classified as an allegation of misconduct, we will then identify the specific allegations that require investigation. The matter is then forwarded to Internal Affairs (IA) for investigation. Our office works closely with the IA investigators (who are EPD employees) to ensure that investigations are thorough and fair. As part of IA’s investigation, you and any witnesses may be contacted for more information. If you claim that you were injured by an officer, you might be asked to sign a release of medical records. The investigation will include related police reports, in-car video, and body-worn video (where available). Our office participates in IA interviews of the subject officer and witnesses. The IA investigation normally takes about 90 days. Our office collaborates with IA to ensure the investigation is thorough and fair; we are permitted to send investigations back for additional investigation where necessary.
At the close of the investigation, both our office and the EPD chain of command issue recommendations on whether the allegation of misconduct should be sustained or not. The Chief of Police has final adjudication authority. If a complaint is sustained, EPD will determine discipline with the advice and input of the City’s Employee Resource Center.
After the investigative and adjudication process is over, your case is considered closed, and you will receive a letter from our office explaining the findings of the investigations. The public can read the Police Auditor’s Office Annual Report for more details about each complaint received throughout the year.
- How long does the investigation take?
Service level complaint investigations are typically completed within 30 days.
Investigations into allegations of misconduct are typically finished within 90 days, but the entire investigative, adjudication, and disciplinary process can take longer. In general, the process is complete within 3-6 months.
- Is the investigation process fair to the officers?
We try to keep the process fair for all involved parties. State law and union contracts provide many protections to officers during this process. These protections include the right to have a representative present during their misconduct investigation interviews, the right to grievance appeals, and the right to review and respond to comments in the officer’s personnel file. There are also rules on how interviews of police officers are conducted and timelines in which investigations shall be completed.
- Can you tell me what happened to the officer about whom I complained about?
No, we cannot. We are prohibited from disclosing any discipline arising from a complaint. We can tell you what steps were taken during the investigation of your complaint and you may ask the Civilian Review Board (CRB) to review your closed complaint during one of their monthly public meetings, if you wish.