I had a supervisor once when I was a young officer who liked to tell us, "if you're not getting complaints, you aren't doing your job!" That was a pretty antiquated thought process even then and we police administrators spend a lot of time now developing officers who can do their jobs without generating complaints.
I think we do a pretty good job of that here at the TPD as our officers, fortunately, do not generate many complaints. Much of this has to do with the professional manner in which our officers present themselves on calls, traffic stops, and general interactions with the public. We review random samples of each officer's dash and body camera video each month as part of our quality assurance process and I have yet to find an absolutely cringe worthy interaction on the officer's part. In fact, most of what I've seen is a group of men and women I'm very proud of because they represent their profession and their agency well.
That being said, we do get the occasional complaint and many of them come from citizens who insist on bringing their complaint straight to me. I understand why they do it: the buck stops here, so why not go straight to the guy in charge, right?
Here's the thing...I'm the guy who will have the final say in an adverse disciplinary action if a complaint is found to be legitimate and requires such an outcome. I'm also the person an officer would appeal to if lesser disciplinary action is taken against them by their supervisor. I'm basically an important step in the employee's right to due process and I have to do my best to remain objective.
I've seen the frustration on citizen's faces when I tell them that I'm not the appropriate person to file their complaint with and I completely understand. However, our complaint process is solid and all complainants can rest assured that each one is taken seriously, investigated by the appropriate supervisor(s), and that proper action will be taken if necessary.
So who does the complaint go to? Typically, complaint forms are turned in at our front desk and one of the clerks will forward them to the appropriate supervisor(s) for investigation.
Please note that I am only referring to complaints on officers here. If a citizen has a complaint, question, or wants to offer criticism or other input about the agency itself, I'm your guy and my door is open!