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DOJ says discrimination complaints against CCPD unfounded

By Staff | Nov 2, 2011

The U.S. Department of Justice recently found that the Cape Coral Police Department did not discriminate in regards to a complaint filed in 2009.

James Muwakkil, the president of the Lee County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, alleged in the complaint that the Cape police discriminated against blacks and Hispanics who tried to file a complaint with the department regarding treatment by the officers.

According to official documents, Muwakkil alleged that:

* Complaint forms were not accessible to citizens.

* Citizens were being required to speak to a supervisor before being allowed to file a complaint.

* Citizens were required to wait one to two hours in order to speak with a supervisor.

* Citizens were being intimidated by supervisors who highlighted that perjury would get the citizen in trouble.

* Supervisors sometimes wrote the complaint themselves and changed the wording of citizens’ complaints.

Last November, Cape police were notified by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division that it was opening an investigation into the complaint.

On Oct. 14, the Civil Rights Division reported that it was closing its file regarding the case, that it had determined that the “CCPD has effectively addressed the allegations in the complaint,” according to the documents.

The investigation “did not reveal evidence of discrimination on the basis of race or national origin in the CCPD’s complaint process or procedures.”

According to the documents, investigators found that:

* Complaint forms are available in multiple public buildings and can be made over the telephone, by mail and online.

* Since the start of the investigation, complaint forms have been placed in additional locations, including the nearest NAACP office in Fort Myers.

* Muwakkil “did not provide evidence to justify allegations that complainants were required to wait or speak to supervisors in order to file complaints.”

* Complaints can be submitted to any member of the CCPD and employees are responsible “for courteously and willingly receiving” any complaints.

* There is insufficient evidence to conclude that supervisors “intimidated complainants by emphasizing that perjury could get the citizen in trouble.”

* There is insufficient evidence to conclude that supervisors did not allow citizens to fill out complaints themselves.

* There is no evidence that “officers or supervisors tampered with citizen complaints even when complaints were made in person.”