Deacon Blue: How to Deal with an IAD Complaint

Sgt. David Cole

Officers of all ranks and years of experience get into trouble at times with the Department. When the complaint drops, the IAD machine cranks up, you get put on the conveyer belt and you get pulled through the heat, gears and noise of the beast. When you come out the other side and it’s over, you are not the same.


The IAD process is a mystery to the average HPD officer. Patrol officers think about patrol, investigators think about their cases and admin officers think about lunch. But very few officers are familiar with the whole IAD thing.


What do you do first when the complaint drops? Just stand by. If it is a serious complaint, a Class I type complaint, especially if the media starts to run with it, stand by. You will be radioactive. Your friends may back away from you.  No one wants to be contaminated.


Now you have to “fade the heat” as the old time police officers said. You feel isolated and harassed and disappointed that no one sees you for the good person you know you are.


Hopefully, you have your faith to sustain you. If you are really lucky, you have your faith and a faithful spouse to turn to for support. If you have these two things, you are armor plated and no one can really hurt you. The worst they can do is take away your job. (Okay, they might try to file charges on you, but let’s not think about that.)


When the IAD process is over, and you’ve been cleared or got a few days unpaid vacation, you realize that even though you do a difficult job well, the flying fickle finger of fate sometimes points at you and you end up dealing with a complaint that turns your world upside down. So you learn to be cautious. Maybe overcautious. Maybe even lazy.


Shake it off as quickly as you can. Remember why you became a police officer. Remember your oath. The public needs you to be a 100% officer again. Don’t laugh. I’ve seen too many officers who let a complaint ruin their careers by turning them into 50% or less effort officer. We’ve all met that guy and we don’t want to be that guy. Pick yourself up and get back in there and fight! Fight for justice, fight for your partner and fight for the people who depend on you to protect them.


Be safe out there.


Sgt. Cole goes by the moniker Deacon Blue. He may be reached at David.Cole@HoustonPolice.Org