File a complaint

File a complaint against an employee and/or the Sheriff’s Office.

In this page:
How to file a complaint

There are several ways to file a complaint:

  1. Online: Click here to fill out an online complaint form. Please provide all the requested information. 
  2. By phone: Call the Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs unit at (415) 554-2380
  3. In person: Visit the Internal Affairs unit to file your complaint.
    1. Please provide as much information as possible. If you were involved in or saw an incident, we will need to get a statement from you. 
    2. Please note that if you have been arrested or cited, we may not investigate your complaint until your legal matter is settled.

San Francisco Sheriff’s Office 
Internal Affairs Unit

25 Van Ness Avenue, Room 350
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 554-2380

What happens next?

We will address your complaint one of two ways:

  1. Informal complaint. A complaint that can be resolved quickly and does not require a written summary of your case and outcome. Here are some examples:
    1. The complaining party is satisfied that a Sheriff’s Office supervisor has taken appropriate action
    2. The complaining party requests an explanation of a policy or procedure
    3. The alleged misconduct or improper job performance doesn’t violate the law or the Sheriff’s Office policy or procedure
    4. The complaining party withdraws the complaint, refuses to cooperate, or isn’t available
    5. The complaining party makes an allegation that has no basis or merit or is harassment
  2. Formal investigation. At the direction of the Sheriff, Undersheriff or Assistant Sheriff, we examine each allegation on its own merits. Here are our procedures:
    1. The Sheriff’s Office will conduct a fair and thorough investigation
    2. We will review all related reports, policies and procedures 
    3. We will examine any physical evidence, review video and gather all information for each allegation
    4. We will conduct interviews with everyone who is involved with the incident
       
Investigation results

We will notify you of the results of the investigation. Timing depends on the length of the investigation.

There are five possible findings:

  • Sustained - There was enough evidence to support the complaint
  • Not Sustained - The investigation failed to prove or disprove the complaint
  • Unfounded - The investigation shows that the incident didn’t occur
  • Exonerated - The investigation shows that the action taken was lawful and justifiable
  • No Finding - we could not continue the investigation because the complaining party failed to disclose information; did not cooperate; and/or there is insufficient evidence to proceed
     
Resolving complaints

Findings may lead to discipline. Discipline may include:

  • Counseling
  • Training
  • Suspension
  • Termination

Sheriff’s Office employees have the right to appeal findings and discipline. Employees have rights under:

  • Charter of the City and County of San Francisco
  • Civil service commission rules
  • Collective bargaining agreements

Complaints may be resolved in other ways including referral to:

  • Unit commander
  • Administrative action without investigation
  • Ombudsperson referral (an official appointed to investigate complaints)
  • Outside agency

Other groups that comply with California Penal Code Section 832.5 (a)