COMPLAINT FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I submit a police misconduct complaint?
Citizens can file a complaint of alleged police misconduct which occurred July 1, 2022, or thereafter through the Worcester County Police Accountability Board located at 1 West Market Street Room 1103 Snow Hill, MD 21863 or with the Ocean City Police Department located at 6501 Coastal Highway Ocean City, MD 21842. The complaint shall be filed within 45days of the alleged misconduct unless otherwise provided by Maryland law. A complaint of police misconduct shall be filed in person on the official form approved by Worcester County. A complaint form should contain a phone number and/or email address as well as a signature of the complainant. Upon acceptance of the complaint form a receipt will be provided to the complainant. A copy of the signed complaint along with the signed receipt will be forwarded to the Worcester County Police Accountability Board. A complaint which does not conform to the above guidelines established by the Worcester County Police Accountability Board will not be accepted by the Worcester County Police Accountability Board, however an inquiry into the allegation will be initiated by the Ocean City Police Department.
Under Maryland law, any person who knowingly makes a false statement, report or complaint with intent to deceive and to cause an investigation or other action to be taken as a result of the statement, report, or complaint is subject to, upon conviction, a $500.00 fine and/or six months imprisonment. Knowingly making a false statement or complaint about police personnel is a serious matter. Persons who knowingly make false statements or complaints are subject to criminal prosecution and/or civil action.
How do I submit an employee misconduct complaint to the Department?
There are multiple ways to submit misconduct complaints:
- In person with any supervisor on duty. A supervisor is available twenty-four hours a day to speak to citizens in the lobby of the Public Safety Building, 6501 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, Maryland.
- By telephone with the Office of Professional Standards, Internal Affairs Section at 410-723-8800, Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There is a voice mail system for those who call after business hours. You may also contact Internal Affairs by email at [email protected]
- Via electronic submission from the Department’s internet web site; https://oceancitymd.gov/oc/departments/police
What does the Department do with my complaint?
When the Department receives a complaint, the complaint is evaluated by the Office of Professional Standards, Internal Affairs Section. Based on the nature of the complaint, it will be investigated by Internal Affairs, or by an appropriate commander or supervisor.
Will I be contacted by the Department?
If you have provided your contact information, yes. You will be contacted by Internal Affairs or by an investigator following the assignment of your complaint. As part of the investigation, you may be required to meet with the investigator, provide a detailed verbal statement and answer questions about your complaint.
How are complaints reviewed and resolved?
All complaints which have been investigated are reviewed by the Commander of the Office of Professional Standards. Once a complaint has been reviewed it is given one of five classifications referred to as the finding(s):
Findings include 4 classifications:
- Unfounded – When the investigation discloses that the alleged acts did not occur or did not involve department members. Complaints that are determined to be frivolous will fall within the classification of unfounded.
- Exonerated – When the investigation discloses that the alleged act occurred but that the act was justified, lawful and/or proper.
- Not sustained – When the investigation discloses that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the complaint or fully exonerate the member. An investigation indicating a policy/training failure should receive a disposition of not sustained and the training/policy failure should be documented including possible remedies to prevent future occurrences of a similar nature.
- Sustained – When the investigation discloses sufficient evidence to establish that the act occurred and that it constituted misconduct. If an investigation discloses misconduct or improper job performance that was not alleged in the original complaint, the investigator shall take appropriate action with regard to any additional allegations.
Formal complaints of police misconduct will be handled as outlined below.
What happens at the conclusion of an internal investigation?
In all cases, you will be notified of the investigative results of your complaint. If the investigation fails to sustain any misconduct, you will receive a letter from the Department advising you of the finding, and no further action will occur.
If misconduct is established, the Chief of Police will make a disciplinary offer to the employee. If the employee accepts the offer, the matter will be concluded.
Should the employee decline the offer, the matter will follow the due process established by Maryland Law for sworn employees, and Town of Ocean City policy for civilian employees.
In cases involving sworn police officers, an administrative hearing may be convened and testimony would be taken under oath by witnesses. As a complainant you will likely be called to testify at this hearing. The Department will provide to you all of the necessary information regarding the location and time of the hearing so that you may appear to provide your testimony.
Will I be informed of any disciplinary action taken against the employee?
Yes. At the conclusion of the due process afforded to employees, if formal disciplinary action is taken, you will be notified.
Will my complaint impact any charges previously placed against me by police?
No. If you have been charged with criminal, traffic, or civil offenses, those charges must be resolved by the Maryland courts.
How do I request records of police misconduct?
The Ocean City Police Department provides access to its public records, pertaining to misconduct by a police officer, in accordance with the Maryland Public Information Act (M.P.I.A.) (Annotated Code of Maryland, Title 4, Sections 4-311, 4-351 et. seq. of the General Provisions Article).
A request for information under the M.P.I.A. must be submitted in writing and should indicate the type of records you are requesting to include a name of the officer and description of the content you are seeking. The requestor can file an M.P.I.A. request via U.S. Mail: Ocean City Police Department Records Section Attn: Catherine Potter 6501 Coastal Hwy. Ocean City, MD 21842 or via email [email protected] . Pursuant to M.P.I.A. guidelines, the Ocean City Police Department will charge applicable fees related to M.P.I.A requests.
Please note, if you are simply looking to obtain a copy of an existing police report (Crime, accident, etc…), details on how to do so can be found on the Ocean City Police Department’s website https://oceancitymd.gov/oc/departments/police/.