Police faulted over complaints

Only a tiny minority of citizens’ complaints regarding alleged police violence or abuse of power are satisfactorily investigated by the force, the state Ombudsman noted in a report made public yesterday. Following five years of handling such complaints – a total of 176 – the Ombudsman’s office expressed «disappointment,» both with the cooperation of internal police investigators and with the results of their investigations. «In a large number of cases, these complaints were judged unfounded just because the police officers allegedly involved denied any misconduct,» the report said. «This can only raise serious misgivings as to the lack of symmetry between the position of the police officer against whom a complaint has been made and the complainant.» It added that even when disciplinary action was taken against police officers, the penalties were unduly mild. The report said the Ombudsman’s office had registered «a series of irregularities and omissions» in the way police handled such complaints.