Want to share a positive story about a Halifax Regional Police officer? Or maybe you have concerns regarding your interaction with an officer?
Contact the Professional Standards Office, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by
1975 Gottingen Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 2H1
Citizens can also file a complaint about an HRP officer with the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC). If you intend to make a complaint against an RCMP officer, on a matter related to an RCMP jurisdiction, visit the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP.
This information is now compiled into a printable pamphlet [PDF] available online and at our Divisional Offices.
Who can make a complaint?
The conduct of Halifax Regional Police employees is guided by the Code of Ethics.
Anyone who feels they haven’t been treated properly or who has concerns about the actions of a Halifax Regional Police officer, or the policies or service provided by Halifax Regional Police, may file a complaint.
You can make a complaint against any Halifax Regional Police officer, including the Chief of Police.
How long do I have to file a complaint?
You must file your complaint within six months of the incident which gave rise to the complaint. Under no circumstances will your complaint be considered if it is not filed within six months of the incident.
How do I file a complaint?
Contact the Professional Standards Office to get information on the process and have the required forms sent to you.
Let the Professional Standards Office know if you require assistance, such as an interpreter, so arrangements can be made to accommodate your request.
Do I have to contact Professional Standards to make a complaint?
No. You may make your complaint to any of the following:
You can discuss your concern with any of the above but if you want to make a formal complaint, you must fill out and complete the Form 5 - Public Complaint – [Section 31(1)] Police Act Regulations form [PDF].
The Police Complaints Commissioner receives a copy of every formal complaint, regardless of where it is filed.
Will my complaint be taken seriously?
Yes. Once you have put your complaint in writing, an officer will be assigned to investigate the complaint.
Will my complaint kept confidential?
Complaints are considered confidential; however, if your complaint is referred to the Police Review Board, the hearing is open to the public unless the Review Board orders otherwise.
What happens after I make a complaint?
The officer appointed to investigate your complaint will contact you to discuss the matter and determine how to proceed. This can lead to one of two outcomes:
- Informal resolution: If you and the involved officer agree, the investigating officer will attempt to address the complaint through informal resolution. Informal resolution uses the process of mediation and usually involves a face-to-face meeting between all involved parties under the guidance of a neutral party. The complaint may then be withdrawn or may be resolved by other means mutually consented to by all parties.
- Formal investigation: If there is no informal resolution, the investigating officer will proceed with a formal investigation. This investigation must be completed within 60 days from the date you filed your written complaint. In exceptional circumstances the Police Complaints Commissioner may grant an extension of time to complete the investigation. You will receive a notice when the investigation has been completed.
The Police Complaints Commissioner ensures that time limitations provided within the Police Act [PDF] are adhered to and may extend the time to investigate complaints when additional time is requested by the authority.
Who decides the outcome of the case?
The Chief of Police or the Halifax Regional Municipality Board of Police Commissioners (if the complaint is against the Chief) will review the investigation and may decide to:
- take no further action with respect to the complaint
- discipline the officer
You will be notified of the decision, as will the involved officer and the Police Complaints Commissioner.
After a decision has been made regarding a complaint
What can I do if I am not satisfied with the decision
You should file a Notice of Review (Form 13) with the Police Complaints Commissioner within 30 days of receipt of the decision if you’re not satisfied with it.
Once you file the Notice of Review, the Police Complaints Commissioner:
- will attempt to resolve the complaint. Any resolution will require the consent of the involved officer and the complainant.
- may conduct an independent investigation of the complaint if there is no resolution. Following the completion of this investigation, the Commissioner will decide whether the complaint has merit and, if that is the case, the matter will be referred to the Police Review Board.
If the complaint is not referred to the Police Review Board you will be notified that no further action will be taken with respect to your complaint.
What can I do if my complaint is not referred to the Police Review Board?
The Commissioner's decision is final. You should contact a lawyer if you are unhappy with the decision.
What happens when my complaint is referred to the Police Review Board?
A panel of three members will conduct a public hearing into your complaint. You will be notified of the hearing date and you may be represented by a lawyer if you wish. If you are not represented by a lawyer, the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner will provide assistance in preparation of subpoenas for witnesses and hearing procedures.
Who sits on the Police Review Board?
Lay persons are appointed to the Police Review Board. The Police Review Board is chaired by a lawyer.
What can the Review Board do?
The Review Board may:
- dismiss the matter
- find the complaint valid and recommend to Halifax Regional Police what should be done
- affirm or change any penalty which has been imposed or substitute a finding
- award or fix costs where appropriate
The Review Board cannot award compensation.
What if I am dissatisfied with the Review Board's decision?
The Review Board's decision is final. You should contact a lawyer if you are unhappy with the decision.
Can the officer appeal?
The involved officer may appeal disciplinary action imposed by the Chief of Police.
Contact the Police Complaints Commissioner
You may contact the office of the Police Complaints Commissioner by:
Police Complaints Commissioner's Office
1690 Hollis St., 3rd Floor
PO Box 1573
Halifax, NS B3J 2Y3