EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 3, 2013

Windham considers citizen complaint policy

Complaint policy

By John Toole

---- — WINDHAM — Selectmen will consider adopting a citizen complaint policy.

Town Administrator David Sullivan will present the proposal during their meeting tonight.

“It’s a new policy but essentially a compilation of a few existing department policies,” Sullivan said.

Many communities throughout the country have such policies in place, Sullivan said.

A random Internet search turned up policies everywhere from the California Highway Patrol to the City of Miami.

“Nothing directly prompted this policy in terms of complaints or anything like that,” Sullivan said.

“We are reviewing all the town policies and updating or establishing as needed as good business practices,” he said.

The draft policy said the intent is to ensure citizens and customers of the town are afforded an opportunity to have alleged employee misconduct or improper service reviewed.

“All complaints against town employees will be addressed through an impartial investigation, in a prompt, courteous, and positive manner,” it reads.

The policy aims for proper corrective action, when necessary, while protecting employees from unwarranted criticism when they are properly doing their jobs.

The policy said supervisors will deal with complaints, in consultation, as necessary, with the town administrator or his designee.

It provides both for informal and formal resolution of complaints.

The policy spells out that departments should investigate complaints “thoroughly and expeditiously” and that people lodging complaints should have them acknowledged within 48 hours.

It sets out steps in a complaint investigation and provides four categories of disposition: unfounded, exonerated, not sustained and sustained.

The policy also strives to deal with the potential for misuse of the policy through the citizen complaint form people sign.

“Making a false statement on this complaint may result in criminal prosecution,” it warns.

Selectmen meet at 7 p.m. in the board room at the Community Development offices, 3 North Lowell Road.