A Guide to the Citizen Complaint Process
The Evanston Police Department is committed to a Partnership with the Evanston community, serving it professionally and lawfully. All members of the department strive to enhance this Partnership with the community and to solve problems as part of their daily tasks, recognizing that maintenance of the highest standards of ethics and integrity is imperative for the continued improvement of local policing in Evanston. The Evanston Police Department is committed to fostering values that serve a diverse population and its needs.
Who May Complain?
Any person, regardless of age, sex, race or nationality who has experienced, witnessed or has direct knowledge of police misconduct may file a complaint with the City of Evanston.
When Should You Complain?
You should file a complaint if you feel that you have been treated improperly or unfairly by a member of the Evanston Police Department. You have up to 2-years to file a complaint register form.
How Do You File A Complaint?
A complaint can be filed three ways.
- Online form: fill out the online complaint form or print form
- Paper forms are also available at the Police Department and Civic Center
- File in-person: Morton Civic Center 2100 Ridge Ave., in Room 2700 (second floor), 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Monday through Friday
- File by mail: City of Evanston, 2100 Ridge Ave., Room 2700, Evanston, IL 60201
You may call the Office of Professional Standards (OPS) at 847-866-5009 or 847-866-5047 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday to speak with someone or to make an appointment
We do not encourage using the online system for anonymous complaints because additional information relevant to your complaint may be omitted that would be required for your complaint to be investigated. Please contact the Office of Professional Standards by telephone instead.
What Is Needed for Completing the Complaint Register Form?
Persons filing a complaint are asked to complete all information on the form to the best of their abilities to help the Office of Professional Standards (OPS) find record of the incident and to follow-up with the appropriate persons involved.
Questions that will be asked of you:
- Your Contact Information. You are asked to give your complete name and mailing address, and at least one other method of contacting you. You are asked for your age and race for statistical purposes. If we do not have a valid way to contact you, your complaint will be handled as an inquiry, meaning we will look into the matter, but not as a formal complaint and you may not be notified about the findings.
- Incident Information. Detailed information about the date/time/location will enable the Office of Professional Standards to locate records of the incident.
- Incident Description. For complaints, include here how you were personally involved and what the employee did.
- Employee Information. To the best of your ability, identify the Police Department employee(s) involved in the incident. If you do not know the name and/or badge number, within the “Additional Employee Information” section, please describe the employee. This box is also provided if there are more than two police department employees involved.
- Witness Information. Identify any witnesses to the incident with their known contact information, so that we may contact them for an interview.
- Evidence Information. Is there any evidence or documentation to support your complaint? Please describe what information you have and provide a copy to the Police Department.
- Verify Complaint Allegations. Please check to mark the certification and sign below the complaint verification. If you are making a formal complaint against a police officer, you required to sign the affidavit. Persons filing false complaints are subject to prosecution. Minors under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian sign the affidavit.
Please see below for the process for the OPS complaint review and investigation and disposition (view a description of disposition classifications).
What Happens After My Complaint has been Filed and Who is Involved?
After a complaint has been filed, it undergoes a thorough review and investigative process involving multiple parties including the Office of Professional Standards, police department supervisors, and civilian committees.
Office of Professional Standards
The Office of Professional Standards (OPS) reviews and investigates the complaint.
In order to properly investigate the complaint, OPS will obtain a Statement from the complainant, a Statement from the accused officer (s), Statements from witnesses, and a review of reports, videos, or additional evidence.
Supervisor(s) of the accused Officer will review the complaint and OPS’ investigation.
The Supervisor(s) will provide a suggested disposition of the complaint and recommend specific discipline (if deemed warranted).
The suggested disposition/recommended discipline are forwarded to the Division Commander and the Deputy Chief to be reviewed. If deemed warranted, a modification to the supervisor’s disposition/recommended discipline will be made.
The suggested disposition/recommended discipline is then forwarded to the Chief of Police for final approval or modification.
Civilian Oversight Committees
Citizen Police Advisory Committee (CPAC): Appointed by the mayor, this committee reports its findings to the city council’s Human Services Committee. Members of the public may appear before the committee to comment on complaints.
Human Services Committee: This committee reviews complaints and asks questions of police management. Members of the public may appear before the committee to comment on complaints.
What Will You Be Told?
Once the review and investigation process is completed a certified letter will be mailed explaining the outcome of the investigation.
What Does the Final Disposition/Determination Mean?
Pending: still under investigation or administrative review.
SOL (Unresolved): the complainant failed to cooperate further.
Unfounded: the allegations were proved false or not factual.
Sustained: the allegation was supported by sufficient evidence to justify a reasonable conclusion of guilt.
Withdrawn: the complaint was withdrawn by the complainant.
Not Sustained: there was not sufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegations.
Exonerated: the incident occurred, but was lawful land proper.
Not City Related: the complaint was not related to any official conduct and was outside the jurisdiction of the Evanston Police Department.
Policy Failure: Allegation true, but the officer acted in conformance with policy resulting in harm to the complainant.