Complaint Process

Your Complaint is Important

The Buffalo Police Department is committed to receiving and accepting complaints about the actions and performance of all our personnel. As an organization, we try very hard to provide the highest level of quality police service to all our citizens. Policing is a very difficult and complex job in today's society and we realize that mistakes can be made and that the actions of our personnel may fall short of your expectations.

The members of the Buffalo Police Department are aware of the important responsibilities and duties they have as public servants. They must maintain trust and integrity in the community. The Buffalo Police Department operates under the constitutional guarantees afforded to everyone and under the laws that govern us. Therefore the courteous receipt of complaints, thorough and impartial investigation, and just disposition are important in maintaining the confidence of our citizens.

Understanding the Process

A complaint may be filed with the Department in the following ways:

  • Go to any Police Department building and request to speak with a Supervisor
  • Call the Internal Affairs Division at 716-851-4557 or 716-851-5322
  • Write a letter to the Commissioner of Police at Police Headquarters:
     68 Court St.
     Buffalo, NY 14202

If you wish, you may bring a lawyer, family member or friend with you when the complaint is filed. Filing a citizen complaint does not prevent you from filing a claim against the city or complaints with other government authorities.

Police Department personnel will meet with you at a location you feel comfortable in. Information that you have that would assist in the inquiry would include:

  • Date, time, and location of the Incident
  • Names, badge numbers, or car numbers of the members involved
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses

The Interview

A Supervisor (Police Lieutenant or Captain) will discuss the complaint with you. Perhaps the problem is with an agency other than the police, or it may be possible that the Supervisor may be able to explain the Officer(s') actions to your satisfaction. If, after this discussion, you are satisfied with the explanation and help given, then no complaint is filed. However, if the complaint is not resolved, then the Supervisor will assist you in filling out the Citizen's Complaint Form and will provide you with a copy for your records.

After the Complaint is Filed

If the complaint is of a very serious nature, you may be directed to Police Headquarters to talk to members of the Internal Affairs Division.

The Citizen Complaint Form will be forwarded to the Internal Affairs Division for review. The Commanding Officer of the Internal Affairs Division will decide whether the complaint should be investigated by the involved members' Command or by investigators assigned to the Internal Affairs Division.

How Long Does the Process Take?

The Department requires that investigations of complaints received be completed within 30 days from the time they are received. The Police Commissioner may extend that time due to circumstances that prevent the completion of the investigation, i.e. location of witnesses, evidence, etc. You will be notified about the progress and the disposition of the complaint.

What Happens After the Investigation?

The Commanding Officer of the Internal Affairs Division will discuss each complaint with the Police Commissioner and his staff upon completion of the investigation. If evidence supports the filing of Departmental charges (violation of police rules of conduct) than the involved members will have a hearing. The Police Commissioner will decide on a finding for your complaint and you will be informed by letter of the result. If you want more information or explanation, call 716-851-4557.

What if a Member is in Violation of Department Procedures?

The member's Commanding Officers (Lieutenant, Captain, Inspector, Deputy Commissioner) will provide the Police Commissioner with their recommendations for discipline. In severe cases this may result in termination of employment, reduction in rank, or suspension without pay. Other less severe sanctions include training and counseling by supervisory or command staff. The Police Commissioner is the final Departmental authority for discipline.

Your Rights After the Investigation

You will be notified of the finding or disposition of your complaint. Please be sure to keep the Internal Affairs Division aware of any change of address. If you are dissatisfied with the finding, you may make an appointment with the Internal Affairs Division to discuss the case.