Complaint Policy

As a Nationally Accredited police organization, the Northlake Police Department maintains a formal and transparent process in which a citizen may make a complaint against police personnel. Each complaint must contain an allegation that a member of the Police Department violated Department or City policy procedure, rules, regulations, or the law. The complaint may be filed with the Police Department or through the Office of the Mayor of the City of Northlake. Complaints against police employees are normally investigated by a Northlake Police Department internal affairs officer. Complaints can also be made to the Office of the Mayor or for some offenses to the Cook County State’s Attorney.

Who can make a complaint, and who conducts the investigation?

A complaint may be made by anyone. If the complainant is under the age of 18, we request that the complainant be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when coming to the police department.   The complaint may be made at the Department’s lobby and will be received by the on duty Sergeant. Complaints may also be received by the Police Department by phone, letter, e-mail, fax, anonymously, or in person Regardless of where or how the allegation is filed an investigation will be conducted. All Complaints are reviewed by the Chief of Police. Most complaints are investigated by a Deputy Chief assigned as an Internal Affairs Officer.

What happens after a complaint is filed?

Depending upon the type of complaint and level of investigation, the complainant and any witnesses will be interviewed in detail concerning the incident. Many time’s policy and procedure can be explained to the compliant by the receiving Sergeant and the compliant will be withdrawn by the complaint. If the matter goes forward, statements will be documented in writing. The Internal Affairs Officer will collect evidence pertaining to the complaint. The Internal Affairs Officer will analyze all the information gathered and determine if the appropriate finding is reached on each allegation. The Internal Affairs Officer then submits the written investigation along with any determination to the Chief of Police. The Chief of Police reviews the supervisor’s written investigation and may approve of the finding or request additional information. After the investigation is completed, a closing letter is sent to the complainant and the investigation files are maintained pursuant to state requirements. The employee is formally notified of the findings.

Will I have to testify if I make a complaint?

If an allegation is sustained and discipline is imposed, the Police Department employee may contest that action in a hearing or before an Arbitrator. If that happens, the complainant may be asked to testify.  If the investigation leads to the filing of a criminal complaint and the matter goes to trial, the complainant may be required to testify in court.

How is an allegation proven, what are the possible findings?

An allegation is sustained when the evidence indicates that it is more likely than not that a violation of the policy or procedure occurred; this standard of evidence is called the “preponderance of evidence.”  The available findings to an allegation include:

Sustained: The investigation disclosed sufficient evidence to clearly prove the allegation made in the complaint.

Not Sustained: The investigation failed to disclose sufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the allegation made in the complaint.

Exonerated: The act or acts, which provided the basis for the allegation or complaint occurred, however, the investigation revealed they were justified, lawful, and proper.

Unfounded: The investigation conclusively proved that the act or acts complained of did not occur, or the member named in the allegation was not involved in the act or acts, which may have occurred.

Complaint Withdrawn: The complainant affirmatively indicates the desire to withdraw his/her complaint.

Determination Suspended: The complainant failed to cooperate and/or disclose requested information needed to further the investigation to conclusion.

What is the level of action taken against a police department employee if a complaint is sustained?

Depending on the nature of the findings, the type of rule violation, the employee’s job history and willingness to correct behavior, the police department utilizes progressive discipline which could include written reprimand, suspension and/or termination.

Retaliation Policy

The Northlake Police Department believes in the right of all persons to report potential misconduct by Department members without fear of retaliation. Retaliation against any party to a complaint made to the Department is prohibited. The Department will not tolerate retaliation.

Please click on the appropriate form:

Citizen Complaint Form             –Citizen Complaint Form (Spanish Version)

2020 Monthly Citizen Complaints Report