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When one of the officers in a large municipality’s police department was charged with domestic abuse, the city’s leaders decided to enlist a third-party review of several critical aspects of the matter, as a supplement to its own internal review.

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The Problem

Specifically, the city engaged us to: (1) conduct a focused, tactical, fact-finding effort regarding the incident; (2) review the department’s hiring processes for new personnel as they relate to the screening process, including background checks; and (3) review the department’s policies and procedures for handling domestic violence cases in which a department member may be a party.

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The Solution

We reviewed critical records and data related to areas such as the department’s code of conduct and other policies, calls for service, and hiring processes for new hires with a history of violent crimes. We also conducted 40 recorded interviews with departmental and city personnel and established an email address to receive information from the public anonymously.

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The Results

As our principal investigative finding, we did not identify any departmental member or member of the public who, prior to the incident, had knowledge of any domestic violence regarding this officer. Our secondary findings focused on the department’s policies and practices with respect to its complaint review and internal affairs processes, recruitment and hiring, and recognition and response to domestic violence – particularly in relation to training and officer wellness and resiliency. While we found many policies and practices were positive and effective, we also identified several critical areas for improvement.

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