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Problems cited in Conn. police complaints

HARTFORD — Filing a complaint against a police officer in Connecticut can be a confusing and intimidating process, according to a report released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.

The organization conducted a telephone survey of 92 municipal departments and Connecticut’s 12 State Police barracks, using volunteer callers who asked a series of anonymous questions about how to file a complaint.

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The organization said it found problems ranging from departments with no policy for handling complaints to others that implied complainants could be subject to prosecution or deportation.

Twenty-three percent of muni­cipal departments reported having no complaint form for civilians to fill out, and 61 percent said they would not accept anonymous complaints, the group found. Two-thirds of departments with online complaint forms included warnings that false complaints would be subject to prosecution, according to the report.

Lieutenant J. Paul Vance, a State Police spokesman, said that department’s complaint procedure is well established, easy to find, and thoroughly transparent. He defended the warning as being part of that transparency. ‘‘You want to be completely open, so people under­stand what they are dealing with in these types of complaints,’’ he said.

The Hamden complaint form asks if the complainant would be willing to submit to a lie-detector test.

‘‘In some cases, departments said you had to first confront the officer that you had a problem with,’’ said David McGuire, an ACLU attorney. ‘‘Those are all procedures that make it less likely that people will actually follow through.’’

The report follows a federal investigation that found a pattern of discrimination toward Latinos by East Haven police and led to changes in complaint procedures there.

The president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association could not be reached for comment.

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