Filing A Police Complaint

Police Complaints – How to File a Complaint Against a Police Officer
Never … ever… walk into a police station and try to file a complaint against a police officer. Civilian testers have shown that you may be harassed or falsely arrested by the police. Police complaints are allegations of misconduct and you as an American citizen have the right to file a police complaint.
When someone files a complaint against a police officer an incident report is placed in the police officer’s record, so as to hopefully keep the officer from continuing to abuse his or her authority. It also makes the officers superiors aware that there might be a problem with that individual police officer that needs to be addressed.
Filing a police complaint and reporting police misconduct is a step towards ending this abuse of power by police.

Examples of police misconduct:


Excessive force

Soliciting or accepting bribes

Drinking on duty


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

Use of narcotics (on or off duty)


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

As soon as possible write down everything that happened. Don’t worry about sending off your complaint right away. Wait a few days and go back over your written complaint and see what you might have forgotten the first time you wrote it. There’s no need for “emotions” to be involved when you write your complaint and 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 a police officer and in some states be sued by the police officer.

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

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

What the officer said or did? Was he rude, abusive or used excessive force?

When did it happen? Date and time.

Where did it occur? Location?

How or why did the incident occur?

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 or a video recording? If you do don’t send the “original” to the police, send only a copy.

To file a complaint against a police officer “one of a less serious nature,” you need to mail a written complaint sent “certified mail with return receipt.” Certified mail gives you some type of proof that you actually filed a complaint against a police officer. If you don’t send the complaint certified mail the letter sometimes gets lost or misplaced by someone at the police department.

The complaint will be investigated and you should receive a letter back from the police agency on the status of your complaint. Most police complaints will be in the favor of the police officer, but the good thing is the complaint will stay on the police officers record.

The police may try and contact you by phone or mail to do a “follow up” about your complaint. Don’t answer any questions and never go down to the police station for an interview. Tell them everything they need to know is in the letter you sent and then say good bye. Stick to what you said in your complaint letter and say nothing else!

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

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.(s)

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

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

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

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

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 30-45 days and up to 6 months for more serious allegations.

A police complaint will not get a victim compensated for police abuse and police complaints are not lawsuits. If you file a complaint against a police officer and the police clear themselves as they often do, the only recourse you may have is a civil lawsuit. In a civil lawsuit you may receive compensation if you and your attorney can prove damages or civil rights violations. Contact a competent civil rights attorney if you need more information about filing a lawsuit for civil rights violations.

If you’re interested in knowing what complaints have been filed against police officers in your community, you may request a copy of that information be sent to you from that police agency.

Request the “Internal Affairs Log.” Send your request to the City Attorney at City Hall for information on the “city police” or to the County Attorney at the Court House for information on the “Sheriffs Department.” Tell them what year or years you’re requesting. Send your request certified mail with return receipt.

While you’re at it also request a copy of the “use of force” for whatever year you’re looking for. This will tell you who the cops roughed up, pulled their Taser or gun on.

DON’T ever walk into a police station and ask for this information! Police officers either start acting real stupid on the subject or they get mad and start threatening you.

Never file a complaint directly with a police agency specially if the complaint is of a serious nature, see an attorney! If you do plan on hiring an attorney, get one who doesn’t work in your area. Don’t get a lawyer from your town, county or from the surrounding counties. Local lawyers work with same judges, prosecutors and police officers on a daily basis and may not want to win your case as bad as you do.

You may also contact your State Attorney General Office. For serious incidents call the ACLU hot line 1-877-634-5454 or contact the Department of Justice click here for the (DOJ) site.

How NOT to File a Complaint Against a Police Officer

One thought on “Filing A Police Complaint

  1. I am an American, US Combat Vet from the Vietnam War and disabled since 1990 with surgical hardware in my arm. I was harrassed by Douglas County Orego Sherriffs Dept since Jan 2007. Taken into custody on protection due to a half sister in Alaska calling I was suicidal. All because she was cutting me out of my mothers will and wanted it all for her cocaine addiction. My arm was broken because of the way I was cuffed. Their reports all false, they even had my hair, eye color weight and height wrong. No recourse though. State Attorney was useless and rejected a complaint. The solution was to leave the Facist States of Amerika where police do not have taser torture devices, explosive ammunition and all those things banned by the Genevas Conventions. Plus they banned capital punishment in the 1840s.

    US cops are totally worthless. I was sexually molested by one when I was 9 years old and over a period of nearly a year. I had a sister and half sister raped by cops, both prior to their 13th birthdaYS. aND NO ONE LISTENED THEN OR SINCE. bUT THE ONE WHO MOLESTED ME HAD HIS WIFE BLOW HIS BRAINS OUT WITH HIS SERVICE REVOLVER WHEN i WAS 13. So he finally became a good cop and now rots in hell.

    With less than 5% of the world population the US has over 25% of all the prisoners in the world. Of which 92% were coerced into pleas under treats by police, prosecuting attorneys and judges. American justice is a load of crap, only a step behind that of North Korea and Iran.

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