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What is the next step in filing a complaint against a police department, after internal affairs has failed me?

Glen Burnie, MD |

I have a major issue with the police department. I have filed a complaint with internal affairs, but no one has been helpful. I have not heard from anyone and no one will take my calls. Who can I turn to next? What is the highest authority level I can report my issue to? I am tired of crawling up the chain of command without results. Thank you.

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

You don’t tell us what happened. Why are you making the complaint? In my experience, it is extremely rare for internal investigations to amount to anything. If you are the victim of police misconduct, I suggest contacting local civil rights lawyer to discuss this with.

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Posted

My law student son actually clerked for a fellow who specializes in chasing the police on these issues. Would you like a referral? He's in Bethesda.

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Posted

I have handled a number of police misconduct cases and I think it is fair to say that most attorneys who handle such cases have no faith whatsoever in internal affairs procedures, and so they actively discourage clients from participating in such investigations. I myself explain the pros and cons of cooperating, since I think there are some possible benefits.

However, internal investigations are completely separate from the process of seeking compensatory damages or injunctive relief through the court system. That process is not a "next step" after internal investigations. Rather they proceed independently. To begin with, if you want to assert a claim under Maryland law, you need to file a notice of claim under the Local Tort Claims Act within 180 days. If the county or municipality then refuses to settle--which happens in all but a handful of cases, such as dog bite cases--you can file suit.

If you or someone in your family was injured as a result of what you contend was improper police action, I would be happy to discuss your case.

THIS RESPONSE DOES NOT ESTABLISH AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU WISH TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY, PLEASE CONTACT MY OFFICE OR THAT OF ANOTHER ATTORNEY FAMILIAR WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER OF YOUR INQUIRY.

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