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Professional Standards

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

Members of the Columbia Police Department are aware of the important responsibilities and duties they have as public servants. The Columbia Police Department operates under the constitutional guarantees afforded to everyone under the laws that govern us. Therefore, the courteous receipt of complaints, a thorough and impartial investigation, and just dispositions are important in maintaining the confidence of our citizens.

Understanding the Process

A complaint is defined as:

  • An allegation of circumstance(s) mounting to a specific act or omission which, if proven true, would amount to employee misconduct; or
  • An expression of dissatisfaction with a policy, procedure, practice, philosophy, service or legal standard of the agency.

Misconduct is an act or omission by an employee, which, if proven true, would normally result in some form of discipline or sanction. This would include:

  • Commission of an unlawful act
  • Neglect of duty
  • Violation of any department policy, procedure, rule or regulation or training procedure; or
  • Conduct that may unfavorably reflect upon the employee or agency.


A complaint may be made with the Columbia Police Department by following one of these procedures:

  • Go to the Columbia Police Department at #1 Justice Square, Columbia, S.C., and ask to speak with an Internal Affairs Investigator or on-duty supervisor.
  • Call the Internal Affairs Office at (803) 545-3583 or (803)545-3936.
  • Write a letter to either the Chief of Police or the Internal Affairs Division, addressed to: 

Attention: Chief of Police or Internal Affairs
#1 Justice Square
Columbia, S.C. 29201

The Interview

A representative from the Internal Affairs Division will discuss the complaint with you. Perhaps the problem is a breakdown in communication, or inexperience with the Police Department and its regulations. The Internal Affairs representative will meet with you at a location where you feel comfortable, if necessary. Information that you will be required to provide may include:

  • Date, time, and location of the incident
  • Names of members involved
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses
  • A written or recorded statement(s) of the alleged act.

A record of your complaint will be forwarded to the Chief of Police for evaluation and assignment. At this time it will be decided whether the complaint should be handled by the involved member’s supervisor or whether to initiate an internal affairs investigation.

If the complaint is serious, you may be asked to talk to members assigned to conduct the internal affairs investigation. Depending on the facts, the complaint may be referred to another agency to investigate.

Accepting Complaints

The Columbia Police Department accepts complaints against any of its employees and will investigate all these complaints to the appropriate disposition. A complaint can come from either an external or internal source, and can be accepted from:

  • Individual aggrieved people
  • A third party
  • A governmental agency
  • An anonymous person
  • Employing agencies
  • Human rights complaints

What happens after the complaint?

The results of each investigation will be discussed with the Chief of Police and appropriate staff. If evidence supports a violation of agency rules only, it will be handled internally. If the matter is criminal in nature, it will be reported to the appropriate jurisdiction.


It is the policy of this department to ensure that integrity is maintained through an internal system whereby objectivity, fairness, and justice are assured by intensive and impartial investigation and review to clear the innocent, establish guilt of wrongdoers, and to facilitate fair, suitable and consistent disciplinary action.

You will be informed of only the final disposition of the complaint. If the case is to be found sustained in your nature, you will not be told of the action(s) taken against the employee. This information is not public.

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