Borough of Bristol, PA
Bucks County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. 1161, 6/11/2001; as amended by Ord. 1303, 8/11/2014]
1. 
The Bristol Borough Police Civilian Complaint Review Board is hereby established. The Bristol Borough Police Civilian Complaint Review Board (hereinafter referred to as the "Board") is an independent, nonpolice municipal agency with the authority to review allegations of police misconduct filed by members of the public against Bristol Borough police officers. The Board receives, investigates, and makes findings to the Chief of the Bristol Borough Police Department (hereinafter referred to as the "Chief of Police") and to the Mayor of the Borough of Bristol (hereinafter referred to as the "Mayor") on complaints alleging abuse of authority, to include, among other things: improper stops, searches, and detentions, excessive or unnecessary force, discourtesy, and language offensive to a person's race, national origin, color, religion, gender, creed, age, or disability.
2. 
The highest purpose, essence, and meaning of the Board is and will always be to achieve accountability of every member of the Bristol Borough Police Department, in each rank and position, to all people while in Bristol Borough.
[Ord. 1161, 6/11/2001; as amended by Ord. 1303, 8/11/2014]
1. 
The Board receives, investigates, and makes findings to the Mayor and to the Chief of Police on complaints alleging:
A. 
An act of unnecessary and excessive force;
B. 
The improper use of police powers to threaten, intimidate, or otherwise mistreat a civilian, including stops, searches, seizures, and detentions;
C. 
Discourtesy, including rude or profane gestures or language;
D. 
Offensive language, including a slur or derogatory reference to a person's race, national origin, color, religion, gender, creed, age, or disability;
E. 
Violation of a rule, regulation, or procedure, including on-duty police conduct, which violates any federal, state, or local laws, or which violates Bristol Borough Police Department policies or procedures; in addition, police conduct which is required by Bristol Borough Police Department regulation but is not performed by the officer, amounting to a failure to perform a required duty. Once an off-duty officer identifies himself or herself as an officer, all rules and regulations shall apply as if the officer were on duty at the time of the incident; and
F. 
Retaliation for filing a complaint with the Board or filing a complaint with the Chief of Police or with the Mayor.
2. 
The Board operates under a twelve-month statute of limitations from the date of the alleged incident. If the statute of limitations has expired, the Board will not investigate the matter.
3. 
If a complaint does not fall within the Board's jurisdiction, the Board will dismiss the complaint. The complainant will be notified of the dismissal.
4. 
Complaints may be filed by anyone seeking redress for police misconduct, whether that person is the victim or is a witness to an incident. The complainant need not be a United States citizen or a Bristol Borough resident to file a complaint.
[Ord. 1161, 6/11/2001; as amended by Ord. 1303, 8/11/2014]
1. 
No member of the Board shall hold any other public office in Bristol Borough. No member of the Board can be a first-tier blood relative of any Bristol Borough public official.
2. 
In making nominations and appointments, the Bristol Borough Council (hereinafter referred to as the "Council") and the Mayor shall use their best efforts to create and maintain a Board that reflects the diversity in the population of Bristol Borough.
3. 
The Board shall consist of six members. The Mayor and the Council shall cooperate in regard to selecting members for the Board. However, in accordance with the Pennsylvania Borough Code, the Council must appoint all members to the Board. The terms of office shall commence on the date of appointment. Two members shall serve for one year, two members shall serve for two years, and two members shall serve for three years from the first Monday in January next succeeding the date of this Part. Thereafter, whenever a vacancy has occurred by reason of the expiration of the term or resignation of any member, the Council shall appoint a new member of the Board for an indefinite term.
4. 
Every attempt will be made to ensure that at least one member of the Board will be a professional (lawyer, doctor, etc.) or former police officer who either resides in Bristol Borough or maintains an office in Bristol Borough. The Board will still remain in operation if a professional is not available.
5. 
The initial appointments by the Council will be made only after public announcement and after advertising of the Board openings.
[Ord. 1161, 6/11/2001; as amended by Ord. 1303, 8/11/2014]
1. 
The Board shall organize on an annual basis and shall elect a Chairperson, a Co-Chairperson, and a Secretary. If caseload demands it, the Chairperson may appoint Board members to two separate panels and may assign a panel to a complaint on an alternating basis. Each panel will present its investigation findings to the entire Board. The entire Board will be included at each level of the complaint processing procedure.
2. 
The Board shall have the authority to investigate allegations of police misconduct filed by members of the public against Bristol Borough police officers. The Board receives, investigates, and makes findings to the Mayor, the Chief of Police, and the Council on complaints alleging abuse of authority, to include: improper stops, searches, and detentions, excessive and unnecessary force, discourtesy, and language offensive to a person's race, national origin, color, religion, gender, creed, age, or disability.
3. 
The highest purpose, essence, and meaning of the Board is and will always be to achieve accountability of every member of the Bristol Borough Police Department, in each and every rank and position, to all the people while in Bristol Borough.
4. 
In order to accomplish its goals as set forth above, the Board shall have reasonable access to relevant Bristol Borough Police Department personnel for an interview and access to relevant documents, including, but not limited to, the following:
A. 
Police paperwork, including daily activity logs, summonses, tickets, incident reports, and other paperwork produced by the Bristol Borough Police Department for the purpose of investigating suspects or to aid in their prosecution; and
B. 
Prior disciplinary actions that resulted from any founded complaint, and police directives, training manuals, and other relevant police documents.
5. 
The Chief of Police will provide the requested documents within 10 days of receipt of the request from the Board. However, if the requested documents reflect confidential information, then the Chief of Police, after consultation with the Solicitor of Bristol Borough, may redact the confidential information. If, for other reasons, the Chief of Police deems it necessary to refuse access to requested police documents pertaining to an investigation, the Chief of Police must submit an explanation in writing to the Board within seven days of receipt of the request. The explanation must be reasonable and must be agreed upon by the members of the Board. If necessary, a third party, mutually agreed upon by the Chief of Police and the Board, may be called upon to arbitrate.
6. 
No Board finding shall be based solely on an unverified complaint, nor shall a prior unsubstantiated, unfounded, or withdrawn complaint be the basis for any finding.
7. 
The Board shall acknowledge all verified complaints filed by individuals alleging police misconduct within seven days receipt of such complaint.
8. 
All employees of the executive and the administrative branches of the Bristol Borough government are directed to fully cooperate with the Board by promptly producing reasonable requests for documents, records, files, and any other information that the Board may request. In addition, these employees, on request of the Board, will be available to meet with and be interviewed by the Board or its representatives.
9. 
The Board shall invite the accused police officer to attend the fact-finding hearing. However, the police officer's presence is not required for the Board to hold the fact-finding hearing and to render a decision or to make a recommendation of discipline.
10. 
Police personnel who are designated the subject of a related criminal investigation by the Bucks County District Attorney's Office or other law enforcement agency or a party to a related civil suit may elect not to appear until the conclusion of that matter. Any civil suit filed related to the complaint will take priority, resulting in a termination of the complaint.
A. 
Board hearings shall be informal, and strict rules of evidence shall not apply. Testimony under oath shall be received from all persons who appear and who purport to have information that is material to the complaint. A stenographic record shall be kept and shall be made available, under payment of costs, to any person requesting the same. All hearings shall be open to the public, except when, in the opinion of the Board or as required by law, executive sessions are required or permitted.
B. 
The Board shall have the power to recommend that the Mayor or that the Council take certain actions, including, but not limited to, specific actions directed at the officer involved in the complaint; provided, however, that the Council shall retain full and ultimate authority, power, discretion, management prerogatives and responsibility to set appropriate disciplinary policies or to take other lawful actions that it deems appropriate relative to the Bristol Borough Police Department under the provisions of any state statute, the Borough Code, and ordinances, resolutions, and regulations.
C. 
Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the rights of members of the Bristol Borough Police Department with respect to disciplinary action, but not limited to, the right of notice and a hearing, which may be established by any provision of the law or otherwise.
D. 
The provisions of this section shall not be construed to prevent or hinder the investigation or prosecution of members of the Bristol Borough Police Department for violations of law by any court of competent jurisdiction, a federal or state grand jury, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Bucks County District Attorney, or other authorized officer, agency, or body.
E. 
Within 30 days of the submission of a recommendation for action by the Board, the Chief of Police shall respond in writing to the Mayor and the Council regarding which recommendations are accepted, not acted upon, rejected, or implemented with modifications by the Bristol Borough Council.
11. 
All Board recommendations and the Chief of Police's response to the recommendations will become part of the file maintained with the Board.
12. 
All rules and procedures herein are invalid to the extent that they conflict with or are inconsistent with the civil service provisions prescribed by the Pennsylvania Borough Code, 53 P.S. § 45101 et seq.
[Ord. 1161, 6/11/2001; as amended by Ord. 1295, 9/9/2013; and by Ord. 1303, 8/11/2014]
1. 
It shall be the duty of the Chief of Police to provide such assistance as the Board may reasonably request, to cooperate fully, and to provide to the Board upon request public records that are necessary for the work of the Board. No document or information obtained through this, or created by the Board or any member of its staff, shall be released to the public unless such document is deemed by the Board, following consultation with the Solicitor of Bristol Borough, to be a public record under the Pennsylvania Right to Know Act, 65 P.S. § 67.101 et seq.
2. 
The Board and its members shall not make public any such confidential police document nor make public information derived from any such confidential police document. The findings of the Board, as they may relate to conclusions drawn from interviews and review of documents, shall remain confidential until the Board officially releases such findings; provided, however, that the Board shall not publicly release any of its findings until such findings have been provided to the Mayor and to the Chief of Police, and a period of three days has elapsed.
3. 
A complaint and investigation will be kept for a period of four years from the filing date of the complaint to the Board or, if the Board's existence has terminated, by appropriate Borough officials.
[Ord. 1161, 6/11/2001; as amended by Ord. 1303, 8/11/2014]
A person desiring to file a complaint against a police officer may do so by requesting a complaint form from the office of the Borough Manager in person, in writing or electronically via the Borough website.
[Ord. 1161, 6/11/2001; as amended by Ord. 1303, 8/11/2014]
1. 
After a verified complaint is filed either in writing or electronically, the Bristol Borough Manager will notify the Board's Chairperson that a complaint has been filed within three business days.
2. 
The Chairperson will contact the complainant within five business days of receiving the complaint from the Manager that the Board is in receipt of the complaint.
3. 
If the complainant agrees, the Chairperson will arrange a meeting with the complainant, the Police Chief, and an assigned member of the Review Board. If an agreement can be reached during this meeting, the case will be closed. If not, the complaint will be processed in compliance with the complaint processing procedure. The procedure outlines the three levels of Board involvement. A complaint can be voted upon and concluded at any level of the processing procedure.
4. 
If the Chief of Police or if the complainant has forwarded the complaint to the Bucks County District Attorney's Office for an investigation, once the District Attorney's Office determines that no criminal proceedings are warranted, the Board is cleared to continue its investigation.
5. 
Hearings are the final step in the investigative process before disposition. The hearings are a fact-finding inquiry rather than a judicatory process. A stenographic record shall be kept. The standard of proof used by the Board for making fact-finding determinations is a preponderance of the evidence. The standard rules of evidence will not strictly apply.
6. 
At the hearing, the complainant and the accused officer may be represented by counsel of his or her own choosing, at his or her own cost.
[Ord. 1161, 6/11/2001; as amended by Ord. 1303, 8/11/2014]
1. 
Once the investigation is completed and a hearing is held, the Board shall make a recommendation. The recommendation shall be based on a majority vote of the Board. Recommendation can be procedural or disciplinary.
[Ord. 1161, 6/11/2001; as amended by Ord. 1303, 8/11/2014]
1. 
In the event that litigation is filed against the Board in any state or federal court and the Board incurs legal fees for representation, the Borough shall pay the Board's legal costs.