The Ector County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to providing the best police service possible to all of Ector County’s citizens. Your Sheriff’s deputies are carefully selected and given the best training possible in order to provide this service. However, you may have occasion to lodge a complaint about the actions
of a member of the Sheriff’s Office. In order to be responsive to you, we are providing the following information about how complaints are made, how they are investigated, and their results.
I. How are complaints made?
When a citizen lodges a complaint against a member of the Ector County Sheriff’s Office, the complaint goes to the Sheriff’s Inspector, who’s office is located in the Ector County Law Enforcement Center at 2500 South U.S. Highway 385. His duty is to review and investigate your complaint. His office is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm each weekday. If the Inspector’s office is closed, you may lodge a complaint with any supervisory officer of the Sheriff’s Office. Your complaint will be forwarded to the Inspector for investigation. TEXAS STATE LAW (Section 1, SUBCHAPTER B, Government Code) requires that all complaints against police officers must be in writing and signed by the person making the complaint. Just as citizens who are arrested must be notified of the charges against them, the police officer must be given a copy of the complaint before any disciplinary action may be taken.
Complaints must be made within 30 days of the incident complained about, except in special cases (such as criminal misconduct or when good cause can be shown by the person complaining).
Complaints must be made by the person who claims to be aggrieved. Other persons may give statements as witnesses.
The Inspector will conduct a thorough investigation of your complaint, and you will be advised of the outcome of the investigation and the action taken as a result.
II. False Complaints
Sometimes people make false complaints against police officers. Citizens should be aware that this is a violation of the Texas Penal Code. Section 37.02 of that code provides punishment for an individual adjudged guilty of committing an offense if, with intent to deceive and with knowledge of the statements meaning:
"He makes a false statement under oath or swears to the truth of a false statement previously made; and, the statement is required or authorized by law to be made under oath"
A person convicted under this Section can be punished by a fine up to $4,000.00, confinement in jail up to one year, or both the fine and imprisonment.
This information is not intended to intimidate the citizen or prevent valid complaints, but is provided to avoid revenge against deputies.
What happens if a complaint is found to be true?
When the investigation of a complaint reveals that the charges are true and should be sustained against a Sheriff’s Deputy, the Inspector notifies the deputy and may take one of the following actions:
1. Counseling or Training
2. Verbal reprimand
3. Written reprimand
4. Suspension or the employee for up to 30 days without pay
5. Demotion in rank of the employee
6. Discharge the employee
7. Filing of criminal charges
What happens if the complaint is not true?
Sheriff’s deputies must be accorded certain rights, the same as with all citizens, and complaints must be supported by sufficient evidence. If there is not sufficient evidence to sustain the complaint, the officer is notified and continues on duty. If he was removed from duty during the investigation he will be paid for that period. He has the same right as any citizen to seek civil remedies for losses due to any action or suspension.
Officers can appeal the decision.
Just as a citizen charged with a criminal offense can appeal a court’s decision, a peace officer can appeal the action taken against him. The Sheriff’s Office has established procedures for officers to follow in their appeals, just as the Sheriff’s Office has established procedures for insuring that complaints by citizens against deputies are thoroughly investigated.
III. What if you are not satisfied with the decision?
If you are not satisfied with the results of the investigation by the Inspector, you may appeal to:
A. The office of the Chief Deputy located at the Law Enforcement Center, 2500 South U.S. Highway 385, Odessa, TX.
B. The office of the Sheriff at the same location.
C. The office of the Ector County Attorney located on the second floor of the Ector county courthouse at 300 N. Grant in Odessa, TX.
D. The office of the District Attorney located on the third floor of the courthouse.
E. The Midland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation if Civil Rights charges are to be filed.
The Ector County Sheriff’s Office is vitally interested in the welfare of all Ector County citizens and in taking action where it’s employees have proven derelict in their duties or are guilty of wrongdoing. If it becomes necessary for you to make a complaint, you can be assured that it will be given a fair and thorough investigation.
By the same token, if you have occasion to see a deputy sheriff doing outstanding work, tell him or us about it. Ector county deputies are individuals who are dedicated to serving you and the community.