Internal Affairs Unit
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office has continued to improve the business practices of the Sheriff’s Office with the explicit goal of providing the citizens of El Paso County with a safe and secure living environment. Consistent with this goal is establishing processes that monitor external and internal practices in a manner that is consistent, fair, and transparent to both public and employee scrutiny. The administrative arm charged with monitoring employee adherence to established policies is the Internal Affairs Unit.
Internal Affairs Unit Function
The Internal Affairs Unit serves several important functions. The primary mission of the Internal Affairs Unit is to investigate allegations of employee wrong-doing and poor performance. The preponderance of allegations are addressed by the chain of command. Once an allegation is received, the Internal Affairs Unit enters it into the IAPro case management system which assigns each case a unique number. Upon completion of each investigation, the IA staff sends each citizen a formal letter outlining the results of their inquiry then closes out the case. Employees of the Sheriff’s Office receive a formal disposition of allegations in writing from their chain of command. Discipline, corrective action, etc., if necessary and appropriate, is remediated at the unit level by the chain of command.
Sheriff’s Office Policy & Procedure details / defines the dispositions available for complaints filed. They are:
- Sustained: The allegation is substantiated. The misconduct did occur and disciplinary action will be taken.
- Sustained with no penalty: The allegation is substantiated. The misconduct did occur and corrective action will be taken. This disposition is corrective in nature and not punitive.
- Not-sustained: The allegation is not substantiated. There is not sufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation.
- Unfounded: The allegation is false or not factual. There was no misconduct. The incident did not occur or involve the accused employee.
- Exonerated: The incident occurred but the accused employee acted lawfully and properly.
All Sheriff's Office policies governing the investigative review processes are made available to the citizens of El Paso County in the spirit of transparency and to ensure our accountability to the citizens we serve.
Use of Force Tracking
Another key function the Internal Affairs Unit serves is tracking use of force incidents across all three Sheriff’s Office bureaus. Blue Team is an integral component of the IAPro Case Management System. Blue Team records all use of force incidents and contains an algorithm that feeds the Early Warning System (EWS). Once an employee’s use of force incidents reaches a certain threshold, IAPro captures this data and integrates it into an Early Warning Report. This report provides the employee’s chain of command the ability to evaluate the nature of each incident, and provide early intervention, and training as needed.
As the Sheriff’s Office has grown, so has the importance of training for all employees. The Internal Affairs team instructs both sworn and non-sworn employees about Internal Affairs' purpose, and mission. Included in this instruction is the criteria used in determining which complaints/alleged violations are typically investigated by the chain of command, and which are typically referred to the Internal Affairs Unit. Each level of violation is discussed, as well as the potential remedy for each. A unique component established by the Sheriff to ensure fair and objective administration of policy violations is the Disciplinary Action Board (DAB). Employees were instructed on the DAB composition, the board process, and policy violations that typically meet the threshold for formal DAB hearings.
Justice Department Funding and Non-Discrimination
Federal law prohibits recipients of Justice Department funding from discriminating against individuals or groups, either in employment or in the delivery of services or benefits, on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or disability. In addition, federal law prohibits recipients of Justice Department funding from discriminating on the basis of age in the delivery of services or benefits. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office policy also prohibit discrimination. If you believe you have been the target of discrimination, in addition to following the complaint procedures for the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, you may also choose to file a complaint with the federal Office for Civil Rights by following the instructions in the link below.
Informational Note: Of the number of incidents reported, the following factors must be considered when reviewing the “Types of Force” used:
- The data captured below is raw data.
- The data includes use of force incidents from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Law Enforcement Bureau as well as the Detention Bureau (agency wide reporting).
- Multiple deputies may be involved in 1 incident – which results in multiple reports of “types of force” per incident (Example: The use of an Emergency Restraint Chair (ERC) requires a minimum of 5 people; all required to report force separately on the same incident.
- Almost every encounter will involve “physical” force as well as “restraints”.
- Chemical agents refers to those deployed by tactical teams.
- Specialty Impaction Munitions – includes projectiles that are designed to stun, temporarily incapacitate, or cause temporary discomfort to a person; these projectiles are delivered by a non-deadly launcher.
- Tactical Vehicle Intervention: The technique used to disrupt the current path of travel of a suspect's vehicle by deliberately making contact with the rear of the suspect's vehicle, using a properly equipped patrol vehicle.
- Vehicle ramming: The deliberate act of impacting a suspect's vehicle with another vehicle to functionally disable or otherwise force the suspect's vehicle to stop.
* These factors contribute to the overall differences between the number of “Use of Force Incidents” compared to the number of “Types of Force” used as listed for review.