You may be concerned with the on-duty conduct of an RCMP officer. You may feel they used excessive force in the course of an arrest or investigation. Or you were offended by something an officer said or did to you. Or the RCMP damaged your property.
You have at least four options, depending on the situation:
filing a police complaint,
suing the police,
filing a human rights complaint, and
pursuing criminal charges.
Each option is designed for a different purpose, and each leads to a different outcome. If possible, you should speak to a lawyer before deciding which option to pursue. In some cases, it might be appropriate to pursue two or more options.
If an RCMP officer injured you, damaged your property, or violated your rights, you may be able to sue the officer and the RCMP in civil court.
Suing the police might lead to a settlement or judgment involving the payment of money.
A lawsuit is filed in either Small Claims Court or the Supreme Court of BC, depending on the amount of money sought. There are rules and processes that must be followed. Lawsuits must normally be filed within two years of the incident. See our information on starting a lawsuit.
If you believe an RCMP officer committed a crime, you can pursue having criminal charges brought against the officer.
If charges are laid, the officer would face criminal proceedings.
The process starts with you raising your concerns with the RCMP. They may investigate. Their investigation could result in a report to Crown counsel (the prosecution office in BC) recommending criminal charges against the officer. A senior Crown prosecutor would decide whether to approve the charges.
If an incident involving a police officer results in death or serious harm, an independent body automatically investigates the incident. The Police Act requires the Independent Investigation Office to investigate to determine whether or not an officer may have committed an offence. An investigation is required whether the police officer was on-duty or off-duty at the time of the incident, and whether the officer works for the RCMP or a municipal police force.
If the investigation concludes that an officer may have committed an offence, the Independent Investigation Office prepares a report to Crown counsel. For more on this process, see the office’s website.
Anyone with some connection to the on-duty conduct of an RCMP officer can make a complaint against the officer. A connection means the officer’s on-duty conduct affected you directly or someone you’re acting for. Or you were present when the conduct occurred, or you suffered some harm or loss from it.
The Commission is an independent agency that ensures that public complaints made about the conduct of RCMP members are examined fairly and impartially. The Commission receives complaints from the public and conducts reviews when complainants are not satisfied with the RCMP’s handling of their complaints. The Commission is not part of the RCMP. The Commission has interpretation services for various languages.
Make your complaint as soon as possible after an incident, while memories are fresh and evidence is still available. The deadline to complain is one year from the date of an incident. The Commission can extend the deadline if it decides there’s a good reason.
You have 60 days from when you receive the RCMP report to request a review. The Commission can extend that time if it decides there is a good reason.
The Commission will get the necessary information from the RCMP and review the RCMP report. During its review, the Commission can:
review the complaint without investigating further
ask the RCMP to investigate further
do its own investigation
hold a public hearing
If the Commission is satisfied with the RCMP report, it will send you a final report with its reasons. It also sends its report to the RCMP Commissioner, the federal Minister responsible for the RCMP, and the officer you complained about. That’s the end of the process.
If the Commission is not satisfied with the RCMP report, it sends an interim report to the RCMP Commissioner and the federal Minister responsible for the RCMP. The RCMP Commissioner will reply to it, explaining what the RCMP will do, if anything. The Commission then sends a final report to you, the RCMP Commissioner, the Minister, and the RCMP officer.
This information applies to British Columbia, Canada