Talk to us.
That’s the message the Huntsville Police Department’s Internal Affairs office wants to send to the community.
Internal Affairs recently moved to an old bank building on 820 N. Memorial Parkway. Open since August, the renovated facility is a step forward for the division, which handles complaints of misconduct against HPD personnel.
The move itself was intentional – to allow for growth of the Internal Affairs Division and be more accessible to the public.
“It’s in a good location right by the Parkway, so you can turn right in,” said Internal Affairs Director Lt. Jon Ware. “It’s easy to get in and out of and nothing besides Internal Affairs happens here, so you’re not having to compete with any other part of the City.”
HPD hopes the new, privacy-focused office makes citizens, both in the public and within the department, feel less anxious about filing a complaint.
“A lot of people are hesitant to come here to begin with,” Ware said. “Moving to this location gives people a lot less anxiety – I hope – to come in and talk to us.”
What does Internal Affairs do?
Ware oversees a team of five highly trained officers to investigate complaints from the public. The division, which also handles administrative investigations, is critical in ensuring HPD builds trust with the community it’s sworn to serve and protect.
By investigating complaints, the Internal Affairs Division works to maintain standards of integrity and performance within HPD.
“My team and I take these complaints very, very seriously,” Ware said. “Their complaints help us shape the training and policies of the police department. They may point out something we never considered before.”
The division also plays a heavy role in the HPD hiring process, conducting background checks, administering polygraph tests and completing paperwork for all police employees. From uniformed officers to records clerks to administrative assistants, HPD takes great pride in selecting the right officers and employees.
Ware, who has been with HPD nearly 20 years, urges anyone who has a concern to let Internal Affairs know. Once your complaint reaches Internal Affairs, the division will conduct a thorough investigation of what happened and handle any follow-up actions.
“If you are really troubled by something or have a feeling that nothing will ever be done, that will probably follow you,” he said. “But if you come in and give us an opportunity to make it right or investigate it and give you a better understanding of what happened, that might help you find some kind of closure or change your perspective.”
The future of policing
HPD has worked to maintain a focus on how it can best represent the needs and goals of our growing community.
By investing in Internal Affairs, Huntsville continues to seek ways to be a more just and equitable city.
“Our job is to provide the chief with a completely unbiased view of what happened,” Ware said. “It’s not our job to ‘get’ anybody or to prove anyone right or wrong.”
At the end of each year, Ware compiles a report of all complaints, both founded and unfounded, and presents it to the chief. HPD publishes the stats in its annual report, which is available for public review.
This process allows Chief McMurray to identify HPD’s deficiencies and how the department can better train its officers moving forward.
“Our Internal Affairs Division is a critical part of what makes HPD the organization it is today,” Chief McMurray said. “We value feedback from the community and take pride in our investigative process for all allegations of misconduct by our citizens and employees.”
Need to make a citizen or administrative complaint? Here’s how:
- In-person: Visit the Internal Affairs Division on 820 N. Memorial Parkway.
- Phone: Call 256-427-7012 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Write: Address written complaints to Huntsville Police Department, Attn. Internal Affairs, P.O. Box 2085, Huntsville, AL, 35804.
- Email: Send complaints via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit HPD’s Internal Affairs page.