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July 2, 2024

How Do I File a Complaint Against a Local Police Department?

Research reveals that police officers kill a black person every 40 hours in general in the United States. In fact, being killed by law enforcement is a primary cause of death for young men in the US. Many more people suffer serious harm when they survive police attacks. Find all your answers about “how do i file a complaint against a local police department” and the following steps here.

At Pointer and Buelna, we are on a mission to reduce police brutality and other misconduct. If you need an ally in the process, our California police brutality lawyers would love to be in your corner. Contact our firm today to tell your story. 

What Qualifies as Police Misconduct in California?

First, make sure the incident in question qualifies as police misconduct in California. Generally, police misconduct refers to any action taken by law enforcement that violates an individual’s constitutional rights. This can include excessive use of force, racial profiling, false arrest, and sexual misconduct, just to name a few. In California, the Peace Officer Bill of Rights (POBR) provides certain protections for state and local police, which can make it challenging to hold them accountable for misconduct. 

What Are the Steps in Filing a Formal Complaint Against the Police?

These are the proper steps to take to ensure your complaint is taken seriously and thoroughly investigated:

  • Identify the Appropriate Agency: Complaints should be filed with the internal affairs division of the specific police department involved as well as with any civilian oversight agencies, such as police review boards and special commissions, if available.
  • Gather Evidence: Collect all evidence related to the incident, including photographs, videos, witness statements, and any other supporting documentation. 
  • Prepare a Detailed Complaint: Clearly articulate the details of the police brutality that occurred in a written complaint. Include specific dates, times, names of officers involved, and a detailed description of what occurred. Be concise, factual, and specific in your complaint. 
  • Submit Your Complaint: Submit your complaint in-person or through mail to the appropriate agency. Retain copies of all documents for your records.
  • Follow-up: Ensure that an investigation is being done regarding your complaint. Ask for a reference number.

Escalating the Complaint to Local Government Authorities

If you feel that your complaint has not been adequately addressed by the police department, you might escalate the incident by reporting it to City Hall, the California state government, or the state police. A skilled attorney can explore every avenue. 

Reporting Felonies to State Police

In cases involving serious felonies committed by law enforcement officers, we recommend also reporting it to the California State Attorney General’s office. Serious felonies include corruption, sexual assault, or excessive use of force resulting in loss of life. Reporting to the state AG should lead to an independent, unbiased investigation into your police brutality incident.

Our California Police Misconduct Lawyers Can Help

The California police misconduct lawyers at Pointer and Buelna will fight endlessly to ensure you are properly compensated. We know the many challenges involved in police misconduct cases, since that is the majority of our practice. Set up a free legal consultation by contacting us now.

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