Filing a Complaint on a Sheriff's Office Employee

It is the goal of the St. Mary's County, Maryland Sheriff's Office to provide responsive and professional law enforcement services to the residents and visitors of our county.

Each member of the Sheriff's Office strives to work toward our goal through working with the community and solving problems on a daily basis. For the continued improvement of the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office, it is imperative that we maintain the highest standards of ethics and integrity.

The St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office welcomes your suggestions and comments regarding our performance. Be it a question, comment, commendation or complaint, we want to hear from you.

Below you will find the answers to some frequently asked questions for those who wish to file a complaint against a Sheriff's Office employee.

The Sheriff is interested in hearing from the citizens of St. Mary's County regarding his employees, regardless of the nature - commendation or complaint. The Sheriff's Office accepts and thoroughly investigates all complaints on the part of its personnel: Deputies, Correctional Officers or Professional Staff. The preferred method for filing a complaint is by using the Public Portal website (description and link below).

PUBLIC PORTAL

Is a secure web-site designed for the public to submit complaints against any employee of the Sheriff's Office. Complainants are provided with a tracking number that enables them to login to the Public Portal and check the status of their complaint. Public Portal offers the option for the complainant to remain anonymous. If the complainant elects to provide their contact information, Public Portal will update the complainant by email and/or text notification upon receipt of their complaint, as it's investigated and when an outcome has been determined. Login to the website using the link below or scan the QR code with your smartphone to file your complaint.

Click here to file a complaint on the Public Portal website

or scan the QR code using your smartphone.

Do I have to give my name if I file a complaint?

No. The St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office prefers that citizens leave their name and contact information; however, we will investigate an anonymous complaint if the citizen provides sufficient information to adequately look into the matter.

Do I have to complain in person?

No, we prefer you submit your complaint using the Public Portal website (see link above). An investigator will be in contact with you and if necessary, will arrange to meet in person to obtain further details.

How much time do I have to file a complaint?

There is no time limit to file a complaint on a deputy, however complaints should be filed as soon as possible as delays could harm an investigation due to the passage of time.

Per Maryland State Law, unless a complaint is filed within 90 days (for Corrections Officers Only) after an alleged brutality incident took place, an investigation that may lead to disciplinary action for brutality may not be initiated and an action may not be taken against the officer(s).

Will my complaint be published in the newspaper?

The Sheriff’s Office treats all Complaints Against Personnel as confidential in nature. However, if the investigation leads to administrative charges against an officer and the officer elects to have a Hearing Board, the hearing may be open to the public and the press. Also, the Police Accountability Act of 2020, specifically Senate Bill 178, now enables members of the press and public to request Internal Affairs (IA) files of Deputies under the Maryland Public Information Act. The release of such materials is subject to certain guidelines set forth in the law and every attempt will be made to remove identifying and other sensitive information prior to release.

Who will investigate my complaint?

Your complaint will be investigated by a Sheriff's Office supervisor or the Office of Professional Responsibilities (OPR).

Will the employee know that I filed a complaint against them?

Yes. The employee has a right to know who made a complaint against him or her.

Will the Sheriff's Office retaliate against me for making a complaint?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. It is essential that we maintain the public's confidence in order to continue the high standards that the Sheriff's Office has set.

I'm under 18 years old. Can I make a complaint?

Yes, but you need to be accompanied by an adult.

How will I know what happened once I make a complaint?

Once the investigation is concluded, all persons who file a complaint will be notified of the results of the investigation and if the allegation(s) are sustained, you will be notified what discipline was imposed on the employee. The St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office completes an annual statistical summary of all complainants and dispositions. The statistical summary is posted on the agency website.

MARYLAND POLICE TRAINING AND STANDARDS COMMISSION UNIFORM CITIZEN COMPLAINT PROCESS
  1. Each law enforcement agency shall have a citizen complaint process.
  2. Citizens may make complaints in person, by telephone, via email, or through the public portal.
  3. Citizens making complaints shall be required to provide a name, mailing address, and phone number or email if they wish to receive notifications.
  4. In person and telephone complaints will be handled by the officer in charge at the time the complaint is lodged. Complaints will be handled in a neutral manner with no attempts to influence the complainant in a negative manner.
  5. Agency policy should establish that email complaints be directed to a specific individual or position within the agency and not to a general email box.
  6. Citizens should receive an initial response to their complaints within 72 hours.
  7. In the event of an investigation, citizens will receive updates to their complaints a minimum of one time per (week/month) until the complaint is resolved.
  8. The agency will notify the complainant of the outcome of the complaint within 72 hours of a disposition, including any discipline imposed in accordance with established confidentiality policies and any applicable law.
  9. The process for filing citizen complaints and a timeframe for outcomes will be posted in a public area of each agency and on the agency's website if it maintains one.