Ombud Program

The role of the City's Ombud Program is to review the decisions and actions of City personnel in any department. When a community member makes a complaint about a City staff person, the Ombud has the authority to evaluate the situation, document what occurred, and describe whether the situation fits into City policies, other applicable regulations, or expectations for constituent service. The Ombud has access to the City Attorney as well as any outside legal resources or other professional services required to fully investigate and evaluate the complaint. The role of Ombud is currently performed by the Deputy City Manager. 

The City's Ombud Program is available to assist you:

  • If you are unsure about which department to file your complaint
  • If you believe you received unfair treatment during an interaction with a City staff person
  • If you believe city staff has not provided you with quality customer service
  • If you seek information about other agencies that could help you

The Ombud provides a final verbal or written response to the original complainant. The written report is a public document and may or may not be posted on the City’s website as appropriate. The Ombud may also recommend actions to the City Manager regarding the complaint.

Complaints may be submitted online via our Ombud Program Contact Form, by email, through voicemail, on the phone, or through in-person meetings. Please note that communication with the City of Kirkland is subject to public records request.

Civilian Options of Police Oversight

Civilian oversight mechanisms are inherently built into the City of Kirkland’s Council-Manager form of government. For example, the City Manager has the discretion to replace the Police Chief, the City Council has the discretion to replace the City Manager, and the City Council is elected by the voters of Kirkland. Outside of the naturally existing oversight in a Council-Manager form of government, a member of the public can submit an allegation of police misconduct to Washington State’s Criminal Justice Training Commission, the City of Kirkland, and/or the Police Department.


The community has the option to ask the City’s Ombud to conduct an independent review of the Police Department’s findings, and in some cases, conduct an independent investigation into the allegation. The Ombud’s process may involve hiring an outside third party to investigate the allegation. The findings will then be reviewed by the Ombud, and if necessary, the City Attorney, City Manager, and/or City Council as well.

Ombud Civilian Review Workflow Graphic


This is the Police Department’s internal standard review process for all allegations submitted by the public. A police supervisor conducts a preliminary investigation into the allegation.  This process involves review by a Lieutenant no matter if the allegation is classified as “serious” or “minor.” If classified as “serious,” the allegation is reviewed by a Deputy Police Chief, and Police Chief before a determination is made as to whether an Internal Affairs investigation will be conducted.

Ombud Police Review Workflow Graphic


Additionally, the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission has its own process of reviewing serious police department misconduct allegations and imposing sanctions on officers. The CJTC has an oversight board consisting of 21 members, and recently increased civilian representation on that board from two members, to five. KPD must report to the CJTC for certain cases of discipline regardless of where the allegation’s review originated. The CJTC may also request KPD investigate certain allegations brought to the CJTC.

Ombud State Review Workflow Graphic

Written Description of the Flowchart Images Displayed Above
  • Civilian Process Workflow:

    When a community member submits an allegation to the City Ombud, it is always forwarded to the Police Department for review. Once the Ombud has received the allegation a decision is made whether the Ombud conducts the internal investigation (which may involve hiring a third party to conduct the investigation) or review the findings of Police’s investigation of the allegation. With the latter, it is sometimes necessary that the Ombud hire an outside third party to conduct its own investigation of the Police Department’s investigation as well. No matter if the Police Department or an outside third party investigates the allegation, the findings are always reviewed by the Ombud, and if necessary, the City Manager, City Attorney, and City Council. The findings are then presented to the complainant.

  • Police Department Process Workflow:

    When the Police Department receives an allegation from a community member, it is first investigated by a supervisor. A supervisor would also investigate any allegations forwarded to the Police Department from the City Ombud or the WA State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC). The Supervisor then determines if the allegation is considered “minor” or “serious.” If it is classified as a “minor” allegation, a Lieutenant reviews the Supervisor’s findings and recommended disposition before presenting the findings to the complainant. This is also the point in the process when the Police Department would forward the findings to the Ombud if the Ombud had requested the investigation.

    Alternatively, if an allegation is classified as “serious,” a Lieutenant reviews the allegation and preliminary investigation conducted by the Supervisor and provides a recommendation if they believe an internal affairs investigation is warranted. Next, the Deputy Police Chief reviews the completed preliminary investigation and recommendation. After that, the Police Chief reviews and determines if an internal affairs investigation is necessary.  If the Chief determines an internal affairs investigation is necessary, an internal affairs Lieutenant or outside agency completes the internal affairs investigation and reports to the Police Chief and, if necessary, the City Manager. Finally, the findings are presented to the complainant. Just like with an allegation classified as “minor,” at this point, the Police Department would forward the findings to the Ombud and/or the CJTC if either had requested the investigation. In certain cases of discipline, the Kirkland Police Department must present the findings to the CJTC pursuant to RCW 43.101.135.

  • Washington State’s Criminal Justice Training Commission Process Workflow:
    When the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) receives an allegation, it is either investigated by the CJTC or forwarded to Kirkland’s Police Chief to investigate. If the CJTC investigates the allegation, they will review the findings and, if necessary, serve the officer and the Kirkland Police Department with a statement of charges. If the CJTC serves charges, the officer receiving the statement of charges can choose to contest those charges and request a hearing in front of a 5-member panel including 3 non law enforcement members. That 5-member commission panel may impose sanctions pursuant to RCW 43.101.105-121.  Whether the CJTC serves charges or not, a written determination is provided to the complainant. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this City provide mediation services for residents or business owners?

Kirkland residents are eligible to receive free mediation services from the Bellevue Conflict Resolution Center. This program is free for Kirkland residents through an agreement with the City of Bellevue. This program provides an opportunity to resolve issues between neighbors and/or business owners. For more information about the Bellevue Conflict Resolution Center call 425-452-4091.


I suspect that my neighbor or someone I know is violating Kirkland’s Zoning or Municipal Codes. How do I file a complaint?

City law authorizes City staff to investigate community-initiated complaints. If a violation has occurred, Code Enforcement Officer or other authorized City personnel will try to resolve it first through education, voluntary compliance, and/or negotiation. If this proves ineffective, then more formal enforcement proceedings may commence. Please see the City’s Code Enforcement Program for more information.


How do I file a complaint against a Kirkland police officer?

The City’s Ombud Program can respond to complaints against a Kirkland police officer. The Police Department will also accept and address all complaints of misconduct in accordance with their policies and applicable federal, state, and local law, municipal and county rules, and the requirements of any memorandum of understanding or collective bargaining agreements. It is also the policy of the Department to ensure that the community can report misconduct without concern for reprisal or retaliation.

Individuals from the public may make complaints in any form, including in writing, by email, in-person or by telephone. Personnel complaint forms are maintained in the lobby of the police department and are accessible through the department website.

Per Police Department policy, all complaints from community members will be courteously accepted by any Department member and promptly given to the appropriate supervisor. Additionally, any Department member becoming aware of alleged misconduct must immediately notify a supervisor. Supervisors must initiate a complaint based upon observed misconduct or receipt from any source alleging misconduct that, if true, could result in disciplinary action. If a supervisor is not immediately available to take an oral complaint, the receiving member must obtain contact information sufficient for the supervisor to contact the complainant. The supervisor, upon contact with the complainant, must then complete and submit an entry into the Department's electronic tracking system as appropriate. In addition, anonymous and third-party complaints should be accepted and investigated to the extent that sufficient information is provided.

Additionally, any member of the public may call or email individual members of the City Council with concerns about a Kirkland police officer. A complaint may be submitted through Our Kirkland, the City’s constituent response system on the City’s main webpage. A resident may also testify at a Council meeting or arrange to meet in-person with Councilmembers to express a concern about Police conduct. Councilmembers usually refer the complaints to the City Manager for review and action and reports back.

What if I’m not satisfied with the response from the City’s Ombud?

Oversight, transparency and accountability are top priorities for the City of Kirkland and the Kirkland Police Department. Civilian oversight of City of Kirkland personnel, including the Police Department, ultimately rests with the City Council, which is directly accountable to the public. If members of the public are not satisfied with the results of the complaint investigation from the Police Chief or the City Manager, they may contact the City Council to express their concerns. The City Manager reports directly to the Council and serves at their pleasure. The Council/Manager form of government provides the City Council with the authority to ensure that the actions of the Police Department reflect the values and expectations of the community.