So you have a complaint about the police?

Campbell River RCMP officer offers advice on how to best get your concerns addressed

Recently, the Campbell River RCMP received a request from a member of the public to release the process for putting concerns forward after an initial file has been attended to by police.

RCMP media relations officer Const. Maury Tyre said the complainant in the matter had been pleased with the way his concerns were handled by members of the Campbell River RCMP and thought that explaining how resolutions are reached could add to a collaborative nature between police and the public.

So Tyre released the following outline of the process:

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Suggested order of a complaint:

1. ‘I had dealings with the police and I was not satisfied with how things went (for whatever reason)’;

2. Suggest waiting 24 hours before reaching out. A lot of times due to the nature of police calls and interactions, emotions get elevated. Take the 24 hours to think about the events and actions from a place of logic first.

“I like to think of it the same as the 24-hour rule when you get an email that upsets you,” Tyre said. “If you respond from a place of emotion immediately it can make things infinitely worse, not better.”

3. Call in and ask to speak to the investigator that you dealt with. A lot of times where issues arise is if people don’t understand why a police officer took the actions or non-actions that they did and just learning the “why” from the officer can create a better understanding and deal with the complaint.

4. If you aren’t satisfied with the officer’s explanation, you have the ability to call into the non-emergency line and discuss the file with a supervisor.

5. If you were unable to come to a solution, you can come into the Campbell River RCMP detachment or call during business hours Monday to Friday and ask to register a complaint. In the Campbell River RCMP detachment, complaints are dealt with by the Corporal in Charge of Professional Standards. Again the idea is to look at a collaborative way to deal with the complaint.

6. If at this point in the process you have still not found satisfaction, you can register a complaint with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission and the complaint will be investigated – by who will depend on the nature of the complaint itself.

Note that the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission can be directly contacted at any point in time to lodge a complaint. The above order of complaint resolution is suggested only.

Tyre also asks you to keep in mind that, at times on the phone, you may not be communicating directly with an officer and the person may be a dispatcher or detachment clerk.

“We ask that they be treated with as much respect as you would wish to be treated,” he said.

It’s very important to note that most issues can be resolved between the attending police officer and the person who has the concern. In the same vein, it’s also important to understand that police officers are bound by the laws they enforce.

“Unfortunately what we do see a lot of is complaints about the law itself or judicial requirements, not necessarily how the officer conducted themselves. People who are unsatisfied with the system need someone to complain to and the police happen to be the face of that system,” Const. Tyre said.

“When police and the public who have concerns can work together to come to an understanding regarding their situation and find a collaborative resolution that creates a better bond and trust between the police and the public they serve. Without fail, there is one consistent in life, nobody is perfect and that applies to police as well.

“If you have concerns, bring them forward, but please do so in a collaborative manner with thought about what you wish to see happen or would wish to see happen in the future.”

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