What Can I Expect from Detectives When Filing a Police Report?

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Bill Stein, a 3rd generation law enforcer, explains:

You must be prepared to give real, honest information.  The department will respond in kind.

You will be seated in an interview room with someone from the department.  It may be an officer, it may be a civilian in HR.  Each department is different, and depending on why you are filing a report, a different person from the department will take your statement.  You will have to give your real name, address, phone number, and (in many cases) Social Security number or driver’s license number.  These must be real.  Failing to give real information (anywhere during the process) leaves you open to charges of filing a false report.

You will be read your Miranda rights and you will be advised that anything you do say can be used against you in court.  You will also be advised that you are making an official statement and everything that you’re about to say is true and correct to the best of your knowledge, and that filing a false police report is a crime.

Once the “administrivia” is out of the way, they will basically ask you to recount everything in as much detail as possible.  They will usually ask you to think of the who/what/when/where/why/how of the incident, and add as much as you can remember.  Once your report is filed, you will be contacted by the investigating group in the department where you filed the report.

If you are filing a report about officer misconduct, you will be interviewed by a supervisor, in an interview room.  Usually it will be the officer’s supervisor, but it can be any supervisor in the department.  If any dash cam or body cam video of the incident exists, you will review it with the supervisor.  Depending on the department, they may offer to give you a copy of the video on DVD.  They may not.  Department policies differ on how non-evidentiary video is treated.  If the supervisor agrees with you that misconduct took place, the supervisor will take the information to the chain of command, who will determine any appropriate actions to take.  If there was possible criminal misconduct, the supervisor and the chain of command will take the evidence to the district attorney, who will decide whether or not charges will be pressed.  If there are no charges filed by the DA’s office, the chain of command will proceed with its own internal disciplinary process.

Be aware that you do not have a right to know what happened to the officer.  You can know that the chain of command received your report and is determining appropriate actions to take, but what those actions are is a matter of internal department procedure, and the officer’s privacy and confidentiality of his training and disciplinary records is taken seriously.

If you are filing a report about something other than police misconduct, the appropriate reviewing agency will get back to you to let you know what they’ve done with your report.

In any case, you can always call the department to ask them what the status of the report is and who owns that status.

. . .

You have two options here: pursuing criminal assault charges (as you were criminally assaulted), or pursuing civil assault-and-battery charges.

If you choose to go the criminal route, you are hoping that the police will find and arrest the person who assaulted you.  After being convicted of assault, he will be put in jail for a minimum of one year (as felony assault carries a minimum of one year in jail), and will be forced to pay court costs and your medical fees.  To go the criminal route, you visit the police station and ask to report an assault.  You’ll go through the same process that I detailed in my original answer, and you’ll be interviewed by the detectives, who will talk to you about the case, what happened, and any evidence you have, including what you’ve already discussed with your chiropractor.  The detectives will take it from there.  Your “attorney” will be a lawyer from the District Attorney’s office, if they choose to arrest him and press charges. If they find him but they don’t charge him, you can still take your case file from the police to a personal injury attorney…

…to aid you in a civil court case.  Filing in civil court is not about arresting someone for a crime.  The civil court route is only interested in seeking damages (in the form of money) for what was done to you: pain and suffering, and medical expenses.  Assault is both a crime and a civil tort.  You don’t have insurance; why should you be forced to pay for all of those expenses out-of-pocket, when he’s the one who unlawfully attacked you, unprovoked?  He should be held to account for his actions.  As I mentioned, if you don’t want to charge him and send him to jail, you can simply seek the advice of a personal injury attorney in your area.  If they find him and can file court documents against him, he will have to appear in court and can be held accountable for his actions.  He may be forced to pay your medical expenses and a reasonable amount for the pain and suffering that you had to go through during this whole ordeal.


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