Citizen Complaints / Internal Affairs
The Monroe County Sheriff's Office is committed to maintaining the integrity of its members and is dedicated to upholding the trust of the community. To preserve that integrity and trust, the Sheriff's Office accepts and investigates formal and anonymous complaints from citizens of the community, and from internal sources.
This guide is intended to help citizens who wish to file a complaint of alleged misconduct by a member of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. If, after reading the following information, you have a question about Internal Affairs, or about making a complaint, you may contact any of the offices listed below, or e-mail Captain Lee Ann Holroyd Inspector General.
- About the Internal Affairs division
- State laws governing Internal Affairs Investigations
- Types of Investigations
- Bias-Based Policing
- Where to File a Complaint
- Information needed for a complaint
- What to expect during the investigation
- When the investigation is concluded
- Complainant Obligations
The Internal Affairs Division annually publishes a Statistical Summary report that contains information about complaints against M.C.S.O. members. This report is freely available to the public. Please contact Captain Lee Ann Holroyd, Inspector General.
To our Residents, Local Business Owners, Commuters and Visitors
We are here to protect our community. Law enforcement officers are required to use skills developed through observation, training and experience in order to identify suspicious circumstances, unusual occurrences and violations of law (municipal ordinance, criminal and traffic), and to act according to the situation.
We contact people who, according to our training, experience, and knowledge, are in a place or are acting in a way to make us believe that a crime was committed, is about to be committed or is in the process of being committed. This proactive approach aids in the detection and apprehension of criminals, maintains the safety of our streets and highways, and protects our citizens and community from crime.
We want to do the right thing. Discriminatory enforcement practices can alienate our citizens, foster distrust of police in the community, invite media scrutiny, legislative action and judicial intervention, and potentially lead to allegations of constitutional and civil rights violations. As we perform our duties, it is imperative that we afford all citizens the Constitutional and fundamental right to equal protection under the law.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Policy
It is the policy of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to patrol in a proactive manner, to aggressively investigate suspicious persons and circumstances, and to actively enforce the motor vehicle laws, while insisting that citizens will only be stopped or detained when there exists reasonable suspicion to believe they have committed, are committing, or about to commit, an infraction of law.
About the Internal Affairs Division
The Office of Internal Affairs exists to investigate complaints about Monroe County Sheriff's Office employees. Anyone who has a complaint about an employee can either call, send a letter, or send an e-mail message to the Internal Affairs Office. Contact information is listed below, under Where to File a Complaint.
State Laws governing Internal Affairs Investigations
Florida Statutes 119.07 (Public Records Law) and 112.533 (governing the investigation of such complaints) are the guidelines the office uses when dealing with complaints filed against law enforcement officers and other employees. The Office of State Attorney General, in a publication entitled "Public Records: A Guide For Law Enforcement Agencies" outlines the following guidelines for dealing with the release of information regarding such complaints:
- Section 112.533(2)(a), F.S. (1998 Supp.) provides that complaints filed against law enforcement officers, including deputy sheriff's and correctional officers, and all information obtained pursuant to the agency's investigation of the complaint, are confidential until the investigation is no longer active or until the agency head or his designee provides written notice to the officer who is the subject of the complaint that the agency has concluded the investigation with a finding to either proceed or not to proceed with disciplinary action or the filing of charges. The exemption (to Public Records Law 119.07) applies to complaints filed with the employing agency by any person, whether within or outside the agency. However, the complaint must be in writing in order for the exemption to apply.
- Section 112.533(4), F.S. (1998 Supp.) makes it a first degree misdemeanor for any person who is a participant in an internal investigation to willfully disclose any information obtained pursuant to the agency's investigation before such information becomes a public record...A sheriff, police chief or other head of a law enforcement agency, or his or her designee, may acknowledge the existence of a complaint, and the fact that an investigation is underway.
To access the complete text of the above statutes, or the complete contents of the Public Records Guide or the Government in the Sunshine Manual, visit the below linked pages:
Types of Investigations
The Sheriff's Office has two types of investigations into employee misconduct. The Division Action (also know as a supervisory review) and an Internal Affairs investigation.
An Internal Affairs investigation is conducted when the allegation is criminal misconduct, corruption, brutality, or breach of civil rights. The Internal Affairs unit will also investigate other complaints as directed by the Sheriff. All other complaints are violations of departmental rules and regulations and are conducted by the member's immediate supervisor or other supervisor as designated by each division's Commander.
Annual statistical summaries of our investigations, and copies of our completed investigations are available upon request.
What is Bias-Based Policing?
The selection of individuals based solely on a trait common to a group for enforcement action. This includes but is not limited to: race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age, cultural group or any other identifiable group.
Citizens who feel they have been stopped or searched due to bias-based policing are encouraged to file a complaint with the Sheriff’s Office. Complaints may be filed in person, by mail, electronic mail, or by telephone. To file a complaint in writing or by e-mail please include all the facts, names, dates, and places known. Please include as much detail as possible. ALL COMPLAINTS WILL BE INVESTIGATED. Regular mail may be sent to: Sheriff Rick Ramsay, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, 5525 College Road, Key West, Florida 33040 or to email address: firstname.lastname@example.org , or by calling (305) 292-7000.
Where to File a Complaint
For a complaint involving a Law Enforcement officer:
- In the upper Keys, at the Plantation Key Sub-Station (305) 853-3211
- In Islamorada, at the Islamorada Substation, (305)853-7021
- In the middle Keys, at the Marathon Sub-Station (305) 289-2430
- In the lower Keys, at the Cudjoe Sub-Station (305) 745-3184
- For complaints involving our office of Special Investigations, including detectives in the Drug Enforcement Unit, the Traffic Enforcement Unit, Sex Crimes Unit, Environmental Investigations and other major crimes, (305) 289-2410
For a complaint involving a Corrections officer:
- In the upper Keys, at the Plantation Key Detention Center (305) 853-3266
- In the middle Keys, at the Marathon Detention Center (305) 289-2420
- In the lower Keys, at the Key West Detention Center (305) 293-7311
Complaints may also be lodged, against any employee of the Sheriff's Office at Internal Affairs, located on Stock Island, (305) 292-7042.
When you call, ask to speak to a supervisor or lieutenant. When you call Internal Affairs ask for Captain Lee Ann Holroyd. Any type of complaint may be directed to the Internal Affairs Unit where it will be logged and forwarded to the proper person for investigation.
Please address written complaints to:
Monroe County Sheriff's Office
Internal Affairs Division
5525 College Road
Key West, Florida 33040
Information needed for a complaint
Have dates, times, names and descriptions available for the investigator at the time of complaint. Provide as much detail as possible. Also provide information about where you may be contacted during the investigation.
What to expect during the investigation
After making the complaint, either by phone, mail or in person, the supervisor or inspector will tell you who specifically will be conducting the investigation and what case number it has been assigned. The investigator will also explain to you how to keep in touch with them during the investigation. You may feel free to contact the investigator at any time to inquire about the investigation.
When the investigation is concluded
Complainants will receive a written notice with the findings of the investigation. A copy of the entire investigations may be obtained upon request with no cost to the complainant.
While the Monroe County Sheriff's Office can and will accept anonymous complaints, we will ask at times for sworn, recorded testimony. This is not done to discourage complaints, but rather to protect the complainant and ensure that the complaint is investigated to the fullest. We also request complainants do not discuss the complaint or any information provided by the investigating officer during the investigation stage of the complaint. This of course does not apply to discussions between attorney's and their clients.
The complainant should always be aware that filing a false complaint could result in perjury charges being filed against them.