Making a Police Complaint

Police Complaints Against Police Officers

Police complaints. Never … ever… walk into a police station and make a complaint against a police officer. Civilian testers have shown that you may be harassed or falsely arrested.

If the complaint is of a serious nature, see an attorney!

Never make a verbal complaint to a officer at the police station and don’t send your complaint by email. Never fill out a complaint form the police may give you. On those forms they ask for your telephone number, social security number, where you work, your driver’s license number and your date of birth.

None of that information is required to make a complaint, police will use that information to harass you.

What is Police Misconduct?

Police misconduct refers to ill-appropriated conduct and or illegal actions taken by police officers in connection with their official duties. Police misconduct can lead to a miscarriage of justice and sometimes involves your constitutional rights, discrimination and or illegal motives of segregation combined as obstruction of justice.

Examples of Police Misconduct:

~ Rudeness

~ Excessive force

~ Soliciting or accepting bribes

~ Drinking on duty

~ Harassment

~ Cannot deprive any person of his/her constitutional rights

~ Making a false report (good for alleging in the case of traffic tickets)

~ Use of narcotics (on or off duty)

~ Discrimination

~ Altering information on an official document

~ Careless driving (driving rapidly and/or aggressively to a minor call

~ Racial or ethnic intimidation

~ Malicious threats or assault

~ Sexual harassment

~ Unjustified arrests

~ Discriminatory traffic stops

~ Coercive sexual conduct

~ Criminal police misconduct

How to Make a Complaint Against A Police Officer

Police complaints against police officers are allegations of misconduct and you as an American citizen have the right to make a complaint against a police officer.

Making a police complaint and reporting police misconduct is a step towards ending the abuse of power by police. When someone makes a complaint against a police officer an incident report is placed in the officer’s file so as to hopefully keep the officer from continuing to abuse their authority. It also makes the officers superiors aware that there might be a problem with that individual police officer that needs to be addressed.

1) As soon as possible after the police encounter, write down in your own words, everything that happened from the very start of the encounter to the end. Don’t worry about sending off your complaint right away. Wait a few days, take your time and go back over your written complaint and see what you might have forgotten the first time you wrote it. Tell only the truth and don’t over exaggerate what happened.

2) There’s no need for “emotions” to be involved when you write your complaint, only the facts. No name calling!

3) The most important thing is to be truthful! If the police catch you in a lie your complaint won’t be credible, nor will any other complaints you send in the future. You could even be charged for making a false report against an officer or deputy and in some states, you can be sued by the officer.

The more information in your police complaint the better. Your complaint should include:

1) Who is the officer you’re filing a complaint against? Name or badge number?

2) What the police officer say or do? Was he rude, abusive or used excessive force?

3) When did the incident happen? Date and time.

4) Where did it occur? Location?

5) What happened when the incident occurred? Do you have corroborating witnesses whose story doesn’t conflict with yours? If you have witnesses you should ask each of them to write a separate account of the incident and sign it.

Do you have any type of evidence like pictures, audio or a video recording?

Mail Your Police Complaint

To make a complaint against a police officer “one of a less serious nature,” I suggest you mail a written complaint and send it “Certified Mail return receipt requested.”

Certified mail return receipt gives you some type of proof that you actually filed a complaint against an officer. If you don’t send the complaint by certified mail, the letter sometimes gets lost or misplaced by someone at the police department.

Don’t send the “original complaint” to the police, send only a copy.

Sending a police complaint “certified mail” will cost you around $7.00, but it’s worth the money. Go to the post office and ask for a certified card, they’re green cards and usually on a table. On that green certified card there’s numbers on the bottom of the card.

Write or type those numbers at the top of your complaint. Like this, “Certified return receipt # 7498472948728105.” Make a copy and mail your certified complaint to the agency where the police officer works, which would either be the police department, sheriff’s office or other law enforcement agency with whom you are filing the complaint on.

In some states you must have your complaint notarized, before a Notary Public. All this means is you swear you’re telling the truth.

The complaint will be investigated and you should receive a letter back from the police agency on the status of your complaint in about 30 days or less.

The response you will get from the police department will be one of the following:

1) SUSTAINED – The investigation disclosed sufficient evidence to clearly prove some or all of the allegations made in the complaint and disciplinary action could result against the officer.

2) NOT SUSTAINED – The investigation failed to discover sufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the allegation(s) made.

3) UNFOUNDED – The investigation indicated that the alleged act(s) did not occur.

4) EXONERATED – The investigation reveals that the acts did occur, but the actions taken were justified, lawful and proper.

A “sustained” complaint may result in disciplinary action on the officer of one or more of the following:

1) Formal written reprimand.

2) Disciplinary probation.

3) Time off without pay.

4) Demotion.

5) Termination.

There is a time limit on how long you have to file a complaint against a police officer. For minor police misconduct you may have only up to 60 days.

Making a complaint against an officer will not get you compensated for police misconduct and police complaints are not lawsuits.

For a more serious complaint contact a competent civil rights attorney about filing a lawsuit for civil rights violations. In a civil lawsuit you may receive compensation if you and your attorney can prove damages or civil rights violations.

You may also contact your State Attorney General’s Office and call the ACLU hotline at 1-877-634-5454.

Updated: 01.12.2022