Transparency Frequently Asked Questions
You may file a complaint in person at Sheriff’s Office Headquarters (1350 Norris Road, Bakersfield, CA. 93308) or any Sheriff’s Office substation or select county facilities. You can call the Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Unit at (661) 391-7470 or contact our non-emergency number at (661) 861-3110 and request to speak to the Watch Commander. You can email your complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax your complaint to (661) 391-7637 or go to kernsheriff.org to file a personnel complaint online.
A personnel complaint is an allegation of misconduct by an employee of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, which if found sustained, could result in disciplinary action against the employee.
A complaint may be filed by anyone who is dissatisfied with the conduct of an employee.
Internal affairs investigations are taken very seriously. Complaints are assigned to Internal Affairs Investigators or supervisory staff within the Sheriff’s Office depending on the allegations. Regardless, a thorough investigation is complete which includes collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and presenting the investigation to command staff to determine if any county or department policies were violated.
California Government Code 3300 dictates that all personnel complaints against peace officers be completed within one year of the complaint unless otherwise extended due to extenuating circumstances.
Yes, after all the evidence and interviews are obtained, the investigator files a report which is reviewed by command staff personnel. The Sheriff’s Office administration reviews the completed investigation and at the conclusion of the review, one of four dispositions will be determined for each allegation of misconduct. The complainant will be notified by letter of the disposition of their complaint.
Unfounded- The investigation conclusively proved that the act, or acts, complained of did not occur. This finding also applies when the individual member(s) named were not involved in the act or acts which may have occurred.
Exonerated- The acts which provided the basis for the complaint or allegation occurred, however, investigation revealed that they were justified, lawful and proper.
Not Sustained- Investigation failed to disclose sufficient evidence to clearly prove the allegation made in the complaint or to conclusively disprove such allegations.
Sustained- The investigation disclosed sufficient evidence to clearly prove the allegation made in the complaint.
California law states sworn peace officer/civilian personnel records are confidential and can only be divulged through a special court order during criminal or civil proceedings. This means you will be notified of the disposition of your complaint, but by law, the Sheriff’s Office cannot divulge any information regarding policy violations or disciplinary and administrative actions.
This indicated that the Sheriff’s Office has reviewed the allegations and they will be formally investigated.
Administrative investigations are no different than any other investigation and involves a deep dive into the allegations to determine if any Kern County Sheriff’s Office Policy or County of Kern Policy was violated. These investigations require collection of evidence, multiple interviews, documentation, and reports.
Once the investigation is completed, the report and all evidence and documentation are provided to the involved employee’s Commander and Chief Deputy for review to determine any policy violations or disciplinary and administrative actions.
Administrative leave can come in two forms: disciplinary and non-disciplinary. Disciplinary administrative leave means allegations have been made against an employee which does not permit the Sheriff’s Office to allow the employee to continue working until the investigation is completed. Non-disciplinary administrative leave means an employee is under investigation for an event that occurred during their normal course of duty which requires special attention. It is not an indication that the employee did anything improper.
Yes, employees under investigation continue to be paid until the review process has been completed.
Yes, the Sheriff’s Office reports annual statistics of personnel complaints against peace officers to the California Department of Justice (DOJ). This information can be found on the DOJ website: openjustice.doj.ca.gov
If you have questions or want to inquire the status of your complaint, please contact the Internal Affairs Unit at (661) 391-7470.
You can view the Kern County Sheriff's Office Policies here: http://www.kernsheriff.org/Policies