Filing a Complaint
If you feel discrimination is happening, you may complete an online intake questionnaire here, or you may complete an intake questionnaire in person at the Police Department. Contact the Community Relations Ombudsman
Initial inquiries are treated confidentially. Tell us what happened, when, and why you feel you were treated differently. We may be able to suggest ways you can resolve the situation yourself, we may make an informal contact, or you may decide to file a complaint of discrimination with the appropriate federal or state administrative agency.
Do I Need an Attorney to File a Complaint or if a Complaint is Filed Against Me?
No, you do not need an attorney; however, you may hire an attorney to represent you if you wish.
What Does the Ombudsman Do with a Complaint?
Once the intake procedure is complete enough to determine whether adequate evidence exists to show that discrimination may have occurred, the complaint is served upon the entity or organization, so they have an opportunity to know exactly what accusations are being made and to explain their side of the story. If there is not adequate evidence, the complainant is notified. The Ombudsman’s job is to conduct a neutral fact-finding investigation, asking for information and evidence from both parties. The evidence is summarized and the parties may then choose to mediate or to seek administrative or judicial remedies.
What Can the Ombudsman do about Discrimination*?
Click here for an overview of the Complaint Resolution Procedure.
Mediation: Mediation services are available at little or no cost. A case can be settled on a “no-fault” basis through mediation. This is an opportunity for parties to settle a dispute on their own terms. Learn more about mediation.
No Cause findings: If the available evidence does not suggest that illegal discrimination occurred, the case is closed. Both parties will receive a report explaining the basis of this finding.
Probable Cause findings: If the evidence suggests that discrimination did occur, the report will explain that conclusion. The Ombudsman will work together with the parties for a resolution that will address the harm suffered and help assure that others will not receive similar treatment from that organization in the future. If an agreement is reached, the parties and the Ombudsman agree the dispute is closed.
Other Remedies: If the parties and the Ombudsman cannot agree on a resolution, the parties may proceed with administrative remedies and/or litigation in the appropriate forum.
*All of these services are voluntary. The Ombudsman does not have authority to enforce state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination.
What if the information gathered reveals that a crime may have occurred?
The Ombudsman is not a criminal investigator and does not have law enforcement authority. However, if information gathered by the Ombudsman suggests that a crime may have been committed, the Ombudsman is obligated to turn that information over to the Police Department.
Will the Press find out about my complaint?
Not from the Ombudsman’s Office. Our staff will talk to third parties about the complaint only as necessary to conduct an investigation or otherwise process the case. Furthermore, the Ombudsman encourages the parties to also keep the complaint confidential. Cases are very difficult to resolve and/or investigate when the matter is being discussed in a public forum or with outside groups.
What kinds of technical assistance does the Ombudsman offer?
The Ombudsman’s Office attempts to provide information to fit the special needs of the person or organization that seeks assistance. This includes information on the law and other information resources relative to the issues involved. Any organization or group interested in knowing more about civil rights law may request a presentation.