Citizen Complaints & Internal Affairs

Northeastern University Police Department

Guiding Principals

An Internal Affairs investigation is usually the last and least desirable step in addressing officer conduct. The road to outstanding performance and exemplary personal conduct, both on and off duty starts with hiring and proceeds through a series of milestones with the expectation that an IA investigation will never be needed.

To start, NUPD seeks to hire people who share its philosophical principles and values, which are based on the belief that all people have equal intrinsic value and that they can grow and evolve over time to be the best iteration of themselves. Equal intrinsic value means that everyone has something to contribute regardless of social status, financial success, or physical appearance; and that labeling is just a way to diminish others.

After hire, officers experience a robust Field Training Program; the success of the program largely depends on who is selected to mentor the new hires. NUPD invests substantial human capital in Field Training so that officers have a sound foundation upon which to build their careers. In addition to human capital, NUPD also invests financial resources to support continual training, such as Crisis Intervention, De-escalation, and Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement.

But training must inform and influence behavior and NUPD employees are encouraged/required to conduct themselves as active contributing members of the Northeastern community.  They become a part of, not apart from, the community, engaging with students, faculty, and staff with curiosity and empathy, celebrating what matters most: family, collegiality, and the desire to continually get better at what you do. Northeastern University is a remarkable place; everywhere you look someone is doing something interesting and productive and NUPD shares in this richness.

However, while life, both at home and at work, presents untold wonders and blessings, it also can be messy and complicated. And on occasion some of our employees face very difficult challenges. It is our responsibility to identify these challenges when we see them and intervene before they become insurmountable. Supervisors learn to have the tough conversations in order to prevent irreparable conduct and damage; and they learn to refer employees to the Employee Assistance Program when appropriate.

In addition, NUPD has built a sound Policy and Procedures manual that meets CALEA standards of best practices. It serves as is a roadmap for officers to follow in their daily work as they deliver outstanding police services.

And when all else fails, when every effort to guide and shape behavior is insufficient, in the best interest of our community, NUPD is committed to investigate misconduct, to ensure confidentiality, and to follow disciplinary protocol thereby protecting the integrity of all involved.

With all of the above in mind, the NUPD makes public the following policies, procedures, and other written directives as testament to its desire to prevent misconduct and to provide avenues of redress when necessary.


Code of Ethics

As a Public Safety Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all people to liberty, equality, and justice.

I understand the basic truth that all people are endowed with equal intrinsic value and that everyone has something to contribute regardless of social status, financial success, or physical appearance; and that labeling is just a way to diminish others.

I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courteous calm in the face of danger, scorn, or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others.  Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department.

I will respect the views and opinions of others and only engage in civil discourse,

Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.  I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities, or friendships to influence my decisions.  With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.   

I will keep confidential those matters that should be kept confidential and will keep my word.

I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police service.  I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession … public safety.

I will know and support the mission and vision of the police department; will act on the spirit of the law as well as the letter of the law; and will work to gain legitimate authority in my Northeastern University Community.

I will apply the principles of Procedural Justice in my everyday work as a Northeastern University Officer. These principles are: Fairness, inclusion, Voice, and Transparency.

Policy Abstract

Bias-Free Policing
  1. Bias in policing is prohibited, including racial or gender profiling.
  2. Training
    • All newly hired employees shall receive initial training and all veteran employees shall receive annual training in bias issues including legal aspects.
    • Such training may include this policy, legal issues, and training for supervisors regarding the monitoring of subordinates’ behavior to ensure compliance with standards.
  3. Corrective Measures
    • The department will take appropriate measures to addresses violations. Such violations may include:
      • intentional acts;
      • unintentional acts; and
      • institutional practices.
  4. Department actions to identify profiling include the following.
    • Citizen complaint procedures regardless of how the complaint is brought to the attention of department personnel.
    • Proactive review of officer performance and history.
    • Agency-wide annual review of employee and department practices as well as community concerns. Such reviews will consider:
      • enforcement contacts;
      • field contacts;
      • citizen complaints and general concerns;
      • assest seizures;
      • asset forfeitures; and
      • arrest data.
Code of Conduct
  1. Limits of Discretion:
    • By the very nature of police work, officers often perform their duties independently with a minimum of direct supervision. They are guided by their own intelligence, experience, prudent discretion, and common sense.  In addition to these personal attributes, written directives provide specific procedural guidelines that define the limits of discretion.
  2. Actions Allowed and Not Allowed
    • The Code of Conduct serves as a component of the written directives; it is a supplement to the department Policies and Procedures. Whereas policies and procedures allow for leeway in choice from possible alternative actions and generally define the limits of discretion, the Code of Conduct specifically defines those actions that are allowed and those actions that are prohibited.
  3. Sections of the Directive
    • Professional Conduct & Responsibilities: 1) membership in organizations; 2) outside employment; 3) political activities; 4) testimonials and gifts; 5) unauthorized transactions; 6) disposition of unauthorized gifts or gratuities; 7) use of official position.
    • Required Conduct: 1) furnishing assistance; 2) awareness activities; 3) civil disputes; 4) compensation; 5) departmental communications; 6) courtesy; 7) attention to duty; 8) devotion to duty; 9) duty outside of the community; 10) duty status; 11) reporting for duty; 12) home address and telephone number; 13) identification; 14) knowledge of community; 15) leaving the community; 16) line-of-duty disability; 17) mutual protection; 18) paid details; 19) extra details; 20) personal appearance; 21) physical or psychological examination; 22) physical fitness; 23) care and transportation of prisoners; 24: care and custody of property; 25) public appearance; 26) submitting reports; 27) trials and hearings; 28) truthfulness; 29) motor vehicle operations.
    • Criminal Conduct: Department members shall not commit any criminal act (felony or misdemeanor) or violate the regulatory or criminal laws or statutes of the United States or of any state or local jurisdiction (by-law/ordinance), whether on or off duty. (22.3.5b) NOTE: A member may be guilty of violating this rule regardless of the outcome of any criminal court case.  Conviction for the violation of any law is prima-facie evidence of a violation of this rule.  However, even in the absence of a conviction (which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt), a member may still be disciplined under this rule for the conduct that was involved since a preponderance of the evidence is the quantity of proof required in such cases.
    • Prohibited Conduct: 1) conduct unbecoming; 2) abuse of department property; 3) use of department vehicles; 4) discourtesy; 5) improper associations; 6) incompetence; 7) incurring department liability; 8) insubordination; 9) intoxicating beverages or drugs, use of; 10) department letterhead; 11) neglect of duty; 12) department notices; 13) official information, dissemination of; 14) personal business; 15) possessing keys to private premises; 16) use of private vehicles; 17) public statements; 18) smoking while on duty; 19) recommendation for disposition of cases; 20) towing services; 21) undue influence; 22) excessive force; 23) wearing the uniform; 24) withholding evidence; 25) false time sheets.
  1. Adherence to Directives
    • Personnel will adhere to the Laws of the Commonwealth, department and University Codes of Conduct and Policies and Procedures, and other department and University directives. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.
    • All personnel will have access to directives.
    • Failure to abide by all Federal and State laws may result in termination and possible criminal prosecution.
  2. Awards Program
    • NUPD will have an awards program that recognizes employees for exceptional performance.
  3. Harassment in the Workplace
    • NUPD strictly prohibits sexual and other forms of unlawful harassment in the workplace. The procedures for reporting such harassment, including a means by which it can be reported if the offending party is in the complainant’s chain of command, are included in a separate policy titled Unlawful Harassment and Other Discrimination.
  4. Role and Authority of the Supervisor
    • A first-line supervisor’s familiarity with subordinates allows the best opportunity to observe or foresee disciplinary problems and to determine the most appropriate methods to deal with them.
    • Discipline can be positive in nature and may include recognizing and rewarding exemplary performance, training, and counseling.
    • All supervisors have the authority to initiate an emergency suspension with pay and relieve from duty an employee who they deem to be unfit for duty. The suspending supervisor shall submit a detailed report to the supervising Lieutenant and Deputy Chief of Police as soon as possible.
  5. Disciplinary System
    • Remedial training may be formal or informal.
    • Counseling may be used to correct Code of Conduct or performance deficiencies.
    • Punitive actions will be the decision of the Deputy Chief and all serious matter related to employment status will be forwarded to the Chief of Police.
  6. Imposition of Punishment
    • Procedures for the imposition of punishment shall follow clearly identified procedures as outlined in this policy.
    • The POST Commission may, after a hearing, suspend or revoke an officer’s certification if the Commission finds clear and convincing evidence that the officer committed certain offenses.
  7. Appeals
    • Employees may appeal any disciplinary action imposed in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Appeal procedures are the same for disciplinary actions as they are for grievances, as specified in the CBA. Any decision of the POST Commission relative to a preliminary inquiry, revocation and suspension proceeding shall be appealable pursuant to Chapter 30A (Superior Court appeal).
  8. Records
    • The records of all disciplinary actions shall be stored electronically in the employee’s personnel file which is securely hosted in the Guardian Tracking Software and will be maintained indefinitely.
Internal Affairs
  1. Complaint Procedures
    • Administrative duties of the Lieutenant of Professional Standards regarding complaints.
      • receiving
      • recording
      • acknowledging
      • providing periodic status reports
  2. Types of Complaints
    • in person
    • by telephone, email or social media
    • through designated offices of the university
    • internally generated by department personnel
    • by detainees
    • from governmental agencies
    • from street contacts
  3. Investigative Procedures
    • Categorizing Complaints
      • resolved immediately by a supervisor
      • investigated and resolved by a supervisor
      • referred to the Lieutenant of Professional Standards for full investigation
    •  Investigations
      • initiated immediately upon receipt and completed within 30 days
    • Criminal Proceedings
      • department employee subject to a criminal investigation must be granted all constitutional and statutory rights
  4. Reports to the Chief of Police: At the conclusion of any administrative investigation, a full written report shall be prepared for submission to the Chief including a recommendation for disposition
    • Sustained
    • Not sustained
    • Unfounded
    • Exonerated
  5.  Confidentiality
    • All materials relevant to an Internal Affairs Investigation shall be kept confidential and secured by the Lieutenant of Professional Standards.
  6. Liaison with the District Attorney or Attorney General
    • Any Internal Affairs investigation which may, or does, result in criminal charges being brought against an officer shall require the District Attorney’s or Attorney General’s office to be appraised of the case for the purpose of advising on legal issues and ultimately prosecution if necessary.
  7. Annual Report
    • A statistical report of all cases investigated by the Office of Professional Standards will be posted annually on the NUPD website.
  8. Police Reform Bill
    • G.L. ch. 6E §§8 -13
    • Provisions of the new law regarding standards and oversight by the POST Commission.
Unlawful Harassment
  1. Northeastern University, including its police department, strictly prohibits all forms of unlawful harassment and other discrimination.
  2. Every member of the NEU Community has the right to bring a complaint, has the responsibility to report harassing behavior, has the obligation to cooperate fully in any investigation, and has the duty to keep information confidential.
  3. It is unlawful to take adverse actions against any member of the NEU community for filing a complaint or for cooperating in an investigation.
  4. Reporting a Complaint
    • Anyone who has observed questionable or inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature or hostile work environment has the right and responsibility to report such behavior to a supervisor.
    • A supervisor who observes such behavior is obligated to report it to a superior officer.
  5. Filing a Complaint
    • A complaint may be filed with any supervisor or Unit Commander, the Deputy Chief of Police, the Chief of Police, the Office of Human Resources, or the Office of University Equity and Compliance.
  6. Investigating a Complaint
    • If a complaint is filed within the department the Chief of Police or designee shall assign a superior officer not involved in the allegation to investigate and report the findings in a timely manner.
    • The Chief of Police or designee shall review the results of the investigation and notify the reporting employee of the findings and any corrective action, if any, to be taken by the department.
  7. The policy provides a number of avenues for filing a complaint including contact information.


Performance Management Process

Performance Management System
  • Guardian Tracking Database
    • Electronic Personnel files on all employees
    • Documents and tracks All
      • Counseling, Complaints, Performance reviews
      • Awards, public and supervisor recognition,
      • Training
  • Early Intervention system in Guardian Tracking
    • 3 or more of any incident within 365 day period
      • 8 early intervention flags since January 2018
      • Triggers intervention by Lieutenant or above
Complaint Intake & Investigatory Process
  • All complaints sent to Supervisor
    • Complaints then reported to Commander of Unit
      • Parking disputes, tardiness etc. can be resolved by Commander
    • All other complaints reviewed by Deputy Chief and assigned to either:
      • Commander of the unit
      • Internal Affairs
  • Internal Affairs
    • All complaints handled like a criminal investigation
    • All complaints investigated even without cooperation of complainant
    • All evidence gathered, findings reviewed by Deputy Chief
Post-Investigatory Process
  • All officers, even if allegation is not sustained, meet with Command Staff
    • What could have been done better (optimize performance)
    • Identify any underlying causal factors
  • All complainants and officers involved in bias complaints meet with Deputy Chief
  • Follow-up with complainant at conclusion of investigation
  • Other Participants in the investigation/accountability process
    • Office of General Counsel, Human Resources, Office of University Equity and Compliance


External/Citizen Complaint

Internal/Directed Complaint

*In addition, there are two (2) internal/directed complaints from 2022 still in progress.

Bias Complaints

2019 2020 2021 2022
Traffic Contacts 0 0 0 0
Field Contacts 0 1 0 2
Asset Forfeiture 0 0 0 0

*One (1) Bias Complaint Exonerated in 2020; Two (2) Bias Complaints in 2022 were Not Sustained


Immediately following every Internal Affairs investigation, the NUPD conducts a comprehensive review of the facts and circumstances.

Whether the outcome of the initial investigation, the Lieutenant of Professional Standards reviews the incident to look for opportunities to enhance training, to optimize equipment, and to revise policy if needed.

In addition to the above, the Office of Professional Standards conducts an annual review of all incidents according to CALEA standards to evaluate any trends or patterns related to race, age, or gender. Also, for trends or patterns that resulted in an injury including an employee of the department.

The Annual Analysis is provided to the Chief of Police with findings and recommendations for improvement to training, policy, equipment, and personnel.

The NUPD is committed to continual improvement and does not wait for an incident to think progressively, to reflect on all of its activities, and to evolve over time.