Options for making a formal complaint regarding police violence
Not everyone who experiences violence at the hands of police may wish to make a report, for many reasons - that’s absolutely ok! For those who are interested in pursuing a formal complaint, there is information below on your options and what is required to make a complaint. Please note that this information does not constitute legal advice, and we recommend you contact a lawyer if you are considering pursuing legal action of any kind against an officer or police force.
General information on filing formal complaints
The Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre (ACLRC) offers a comprehensive guide to making a formal police complaint in Alberta. They note that any formal complaint will require the following information:
the full name, address and contact information of the complainant;
if the complaint is made by an agent, the agent’s full name, address and contact information;
if the complaint deals with the conduct of a police officer,
the date of the alleged conduct, if known,
the identification of the police officer, if known, and
a description of the incident at issue;
if the complaint is in respect of a policy or service of a police service, sufficient information to identify the policy or service complained of; and
any other information requested.
Per Alberta’s Police Act 43(11), a complaint must be filed within one year of the incident occurring, or within a year of after you first knew or ought to have known that the conduct complained of had occurred.
The Alberta government website includes an overview of policing complaint and appeal processes here.
Violence perpetrated by members of Edmonton Police Service
Concerns can be reported to EPS here using a webform, by phone, or by mail.
EPS lists three different types of complaints - general reporting without follow-up, a Citizen Concern (which includes “officer professionalism”, such as rudeness), or a Police Act Complaint, which may involve a dispute resolution process.
Violence perpetrated by members of the RCMP
There are three options for making a complaint against member(s) of the RCMP:
The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (the “Commission”) for the RCMP, via their Complaints Portal
Any member or employee of the RCMP in your province. In practice, persons who are filing their complaint this way are typically told to address their complaint to the Commanding Officer for Alberta’s RCMP (known as “K” Division); you can make this complaint directly to an officer, or in writing to “K” Division at this address:
c/o North West Region Professional Standards Section
RCMP "K" Division
11140 – 109 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5G 2T4
The Provincial Public Complaint Director designated by the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General - Click here for more information on the Provincial Public Complaint Director
Violence perpetrated by private security
There are fewer formal processes in place for making complaints against private security guards or companies. The Alberta government offers information about the complaints process on their website. This process may result in an informal resolution or a formal investigation.
In some cases, a civil lawsuit may be the only means of seeking justice for harms committed by private security personnel.
Violence perpetrated by correctional facility staff
Persons who have been/are presently incarcerated for a federal offense, and their family/friends, can make complaints to the Office of the Correctional Investigator.
There is minimal publicly-available information about filing an internal complaint about Alberta Correctional Services. The ACLRC has a document outlining the options here, current to 2017. We will continue to update this section as we find more resources.
General Human Rights Complaints
In some cases, survivors of police violence may find that a human rights complaint is a more effective mechanism than filing internal complaints with the associated policing organization. Some starting places for filing Human Rights Complaints include:
The Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre provides information on filing complaints in Canada and Alberta.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission has a self-assessment tool to determine if their complaint process is appropriate for your situation.
The Edmonton-based John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights offers volunteer support with human rights issues through their Stride Advocacy program, which may be a good starting place for discovering your options.
With thanks to the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre for information and resources on filing complaints against police.