Police officers are trusted with enforcing the law and ensuring public safety, both of which can be daunting and dangerous tasks. No matter how challenging the job is, officers must do both within the confines of the law and the rights afforded to citizens under the U.S. Constitution.
Do you believe you have information on misconduct by a police officer? Here’s how to properly report it.
How do you report police misconduct?
There are three crucial steps you must take to properly report police misconduct:
- Document Everything – This is a very important step, and you should start writing everything down as soon as possible after the alleged misconduct. You can never tell which minor details will make a big difference in the allegations at a later date, and you want to make sure you keep your side of the story straight.
Write everything down in your own words, from what you were doing right before your interaction with police to the very end of your encounter. Remember the exact phrases you used, and remember the exact words the officer used. What time of day did it happen? Where did it happen? Do you have an exact address? How about the officer’s name, physical description, license plate number and badge number?
Did you talk to witnesses at the scene? If so, did you get their contact information? These are all things you’ll want to include in your documentation if at all possible. If you didn’t talk to any witnesses, depending on the situation it could be helpful to go back to the scene and try to find one.
Also, if you’re not sure of a particular fact, don’t write it down as fact. You don’t want to do anything to hurt your credibility.
- Talk to an attorney – Were you arrested after your encounter with police? Then you should definitely consult with an attorney. Even if you weren’t arrested, consulting with an attorney is still a good idea.
Why? If you were arrested, you need a criminal defense attorney who also specializes in cases of police misconduct. Misconduct cases are often very challenging and difficult to prove. Your chances of prevailing are a lot lower if you don’t talk to an attorney before you file a complaint.
When you do meet with an attorney, make sure you have all of your facts straight and all of your documentation in order. Stay calm and present all the evidence you have that will make the lawyer want to proceed with a police misconduct case.
Contact Jacqui Ford Law today to discuss your case.
- File a misconduct report – Don’t plan on doing this until any possible criminal and civil cases have been addressed and completely resolved in connection with the police misconduct. If you are not filing a lawsuit against the officer or the department, and you don’t have any charges against you, then you can file the complaint immediately.
The process of filing an official complaint will rely heavily on all the documentation you preserved, so did you take good notes?
If you get online and search for where to file a police complaint in your city, you can usually be directed to the right office for filing the complaint. If there is some kind of independent review board in your city that also addresses police misconduct allegations, be sure to send your complaint to both the office that handles complaints within the police department and the independent board.
If there’s an official form you have to fill out, just transfer all of the information from your notes to the form. If you have to talk to a police officer to obtain said form, do not discuss the specifics of your case.
Above all, the most important thing you can do if you believe you are the victim of police misconduct is to call an attorney experienced in civil rights issues.