Complaints, Inquiries & Commendations

Inquiry or Complaints | Commendations

Making an Inquiry or Complaint

An inquiry or complaint about the department or its employees can be made by letter, telephone, or in person. Any Supervisor may accept an initial inquiry or complaint against personnel, procedure or policies. If the inquiry or complaint is against a Public Safety and Service department employee, we recommend that you contact that employee's supervisor. If the supervisor is not available, you may contact the OIC. The supervisor will ensure that your inquiry or complaint is directed to the proper authority.

If the inquiry or complaint appears to be based on a misunderstanding or a lack of knowledge of acceptable or desired conduct, procedures or practices, the Public Safety and Service Department may offer an explanation. If you are not satisfied with their explanation, you may insist on speaking with the officer's supervisor.

Please provide the date, time and location of the event; the name(s) of the officer(s) involved (if known) and the name, address and telephone number of any possible witnesses.

Your inquiry or complaint can be done by email, by phone, or for more efficient service, you may use our Citizen Inquiry or Complaint Form. Please mail or email to:

Chief of Public Safety and Service
50 College Street
South Hadley MA 01075
(413) 538-2304

Investigation Procedure

Once your inquiry or complaint is received, it will be thoroughly investigated by the Internal Affairs Coordinator or his/her designee. The investigation will usually include a review of any applicable reports, policies and procedures, examination of any evidence or medical records and interviews with all parties and witnesses.

A simple inquiry might take only a few days to complete, while a complex complaint might take longer to investigate and review. The Public Safety and Service Department internal investigations and administrative inquiries must be completed within 90 days unless extended by the Director because of extenuating circumstances (reporting parties or witnesses have left campus such as for breaks or summer, unavailability of involved parties, etc.).

The Internal Affairs Coordinator reviews every inquiry and complaint, to include any investigative findings. If the Internal Affairs Coordinator determines that an employee violated department policy or procedures, appropriate corrective action is taken. The Deputy Chief review will also include looking for ways to improve policies, procedures and training.

We use each reported incident, regardless of the findings, as a learning tool to evaluate our policies, employee development, training, supervision, or community relations to identify ways that we can be of better service to our community members.  We value the trust placed in us by our community, and we will work very hard to maintain that trust. 

Who May File an Inquiry or Complaint?

Any individual who was a witness to, or a victim of what they feel was a wrongdoing by any member of Public Safety and Service, or who has concerns with department practices may file an inquiry or complaint. We encourage open dialogue and involvement to help maintain the high standards of quality that the department demands and the community deserves.

While this Department will investigate all inquiries and complaints, even if submitted anonymously, a concern or complaint can be investigated more completely if the complainant provides some contact information to allow for more thorough gathering of data regarding an incident in question.


You will receive written notification once the complaint investigation has ended. There are 5 different levels of findings. However, due to personnel confidentiality the exact findings will not be disclosed.

  • Unfounded: There was sufficient evidence to prove the complaint or incident is false or not factual.
  • Exonerated: There is evidence that indicates that the act or incident did occur, but the officer's actions were justified, lawful and proper.
  • Not Sustained: There is sufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the complaint or incident.
  • Sustained/No Discipline: There is sufficient evidence to establish that the incident did occur, but the facts and circumstances are of such a nature that formal discipline is not warranted.
  • Sustained/Discipline: There is sufficient evidence to establish that the incident did occur and the facts and circumstances support the determination that officer's actions constituted misconduct. Discipline may range from a personnel warning or punitive letter to suspension to termination, depending on the severity of the incident.

College procedures allow for appeal of such actions by either the employee or the complaining party; please refer to Staff Handbook on Resolution of Grievances for those procedures (available on campus only; if you are off campus and cannot access that page, you can obtain information on the process from the Deputy Chief.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What happens to an employee if he or she is found to have acted improperly?
: Some instances require disciplinary action such as reprimand, suspension or even termination. Sometimes training or counseling is appropriate. If a crime is alleged, a separate criminal investigation is conducted. 

Q: Why can't I get a copy of the investigation?
: Internal misconduct investigations become part of the employee's personnel file and may contain medical, juvenile or other restricted information. Disclosure of specific actions are protected by employment laws and College policy.

Q: Do I have a guarantee that I will be satisfied?
: Although we cannot guarantee that you will be satisfied, we do guarantee that your inquiry will be investigated thoroughly. You may discuss the results with the Chief or their designated representative.

Q: I am concerned that an officer or the department will retaliate in some way because I filed a complaint.
: Public Safety and Service staff want, and depend on, your involvement and will not condone, in any way, any retaliation. Any person doing so would be subjecting themselves to civil, criminal and departmental action.

Commending Exceptional Performance

The best way to commend the actions of one of our staff members is to write a brief letter describing the incident and the actions you think were exceptional. Information such as date, time and locations will help identify the employee if you do not know their name. If you chose not to write, you may ask to speak with the individual's supervisor and make a verbal commendation.

Commendations received by the Chief are forwarded to the employee with a copy placed in their personnel file. Although our employees do not expect to be thanked for everything they do, recognition of exceptional service is always appreciated. This kind of feedback helps us to know if we are doing a good job.

The Public Safety and Service Department is committed to providing the best service possible. Comments are essential.

You can submit a commendation by completing the Employee Commendation Form.

Contact Information

If you have questions about any specific action taken by us, or how we operate, or if you have a recommendation on how we can improve, you may contact any of the following:

In Writing:

Chief of Public Safety and Service
Public Safety and Service Department
Mount Holyoke College
50 College Street
South Hadley, MA 01075

By Phone:

See numbers on right of this page

In Person:

1 Everett Road (across from Health Services and the Career Center)