Office of Professional Standards

A message from Chief of Police Scott P. Livingstone
A relationship of trust and confidence between the employees of the Amherst Police Department and the community members is essential to the successful accomplishment of the mission of the Department. All of our personnel are expected to conduct themselves in such a manner as to reflect favorably upon themselves and the Department.

At the Amherst Police Department we pride ourselves on the exceptional level of service that we provide to the community. We hold ourselves to a higher level of integrity than other members of the public, and it is because of this that we are committed to the thorough investigation of all complaints of misconduct against our Department or personnel. To be a good steward of the public’s resources, every unit of government needs an internal component to inspect their performance. Our Office of Professional Standards accomplishes just that. The goals of the Office of Professional Standards are accountability, professionalism, and integrity.
Under the direction of the Chief's Office, the Office of Professional Standards is responsible for not only the internal affairs investigations of complaints of misconduct, but also for the recruitment and training of new personnel, continuing training and development of existing personnel and the analysis and review of all Departmental functions to insure efficiency. The Office of Professional Standards also directs the Departments efforts in maintaining our state accreditation through the strict adherence to our written policies, procedures, rules and regulations.

Contained here is some valuable information on how you can notify us if we do not meet your expectations. As you review the information below, I welcome your comments on ways that we can better communicate the role of the Office of Professional Standards to the Amherst community. Please take a moment to either email or call us with your suggestions at 413-259-3014.

Scott P. Livingstone
Chief of Police
What is an internal affairs complaint and investigation?
The responsibility of the Internal Affairs function of the Office of Professional Standards is to respond to allegations of misconduct against the police department and its employees. The objectives of such an investigation are the protection of the public, protection of our employees, protection of the Department, removal of unfit personnel, correction of procedural problems, and addressing training deficiencies. 
  
When should a complaint be filed? When not?

If you feel that the actions of an employee of the Amherst Police Department constituted misconduct, you may file a Complaint of Misconduct.  Actions can include but are not limited to, excessive use of force, rudeness, violation of a Department policy or rule, or an illegal act. 

Forms to file an alleged complaint of misconduct can be obtained at the Amherst Police Department, at the Amherst Town Hall/Office of the Town Manager and can be downloaded and printed here:  Report of Alleged Police Misconduct Form and Instructions.

 

Generally speaking, in instances where an officer has used his or her discretion lawfully, but you disagree with that discretion, that would not be  considered “misconduct” for the purposes of the internal affairs function the Office of Professional Standards.  For those instances where an officer has lawfully used his or her discretion, which does not include misconduct, there is a right of appeal.  Appeal venues that are available to community members include the District Clerk Magistrate for a traffic infraction and Amherst Bylaw ticket and the Amherst Collector's Office for a parking ticket.  If you are unclear as to which option is appropriate, you can contact a police supervisor at 413-259-3000, the Office of Professional Standards at 413-259-3014 or the Office of the Chief of Police at 413-259-3014. 




Investigation Process


Who can make a complaint?
Any community member, governmental/town employee or department employee can file a complaint of misconduct.

When can it be made?
To conduct a full and thorough investigation that protects both the community and our personnel, we ask that you report your concerns to us as soon as possible.

Your responsibilities as a complainant:
We ask that you provide us with a completed and signed Complaint of Misconduct form. These forms can be found at the Amherst Police Department, the Office of the Human Rights at Town Hall, and at the Town Manager's Office at Town Hall. In most instances, we will need to interview the complainant to clarify the written complaint form so we ask you to be available for either a telephone or in-person interview, conducted at a mutually agreeable location.

Our responsibilities/Our procedures:
We will fully and thoroughly investigate all reports of misconduct. By written policy, all complaints must be forwarded to the Office of the Chief of Police immediately upon being received. After his/her review of the allegations, the Chief of Police forwards the complaint to the Office of Professional Standards which then assigns the case to an investigating officer, which is usually either a Captain or Lieutenant. The Office of Professional Standards oversees the investigation and reports the findings directly to the Chief of Police. Unless there are exigent circumstances, all investigations must be completed and returned to the Chief of Police within 14 days.

Findings:
When in investigation is completed, the Office of Professional Standards will provide to the Chief of Police the full report and a “conclusion of fact” as to whether the charges made by the complainant were:

  • valid and supported by sufficient evidence;
  • unsustained because of inadequate or insufficient evidence;
  • unfounded as the allegations were baseless and without foundation; or
  • unjustified or unwarranted as the actions of the accused department employee were in compliance with law or in accordance with Department policy and procedure.
Notifications:
Upon the conclusion of the investigation, the complainant will promptly be notified by the Chief of Police, either in person if possible or else by mail, as to the final results of the investigation. If a department employee is cleared of the charges made, he/she shall be exonerated in writing.

At the Amherst Police Department we use each reported incident, regardless of the findings, as a learning tool to evaluate our policies, employee development, training, supervision, or community relations to identify ways that we can be of better service to our community members. We value the trust placed in us by our community, and we will work very hard to maintain that trust. View our internal affairs policy here.