Reporting Police Misconduct

We believe that police departments improve their services when civilians hold them accountable.

One important way of holding police accountable in your community is by reporting any instance of police misconduct.  Misconduct can range from refusing to make a police report to physical assault.  Some categories of misconduct include:

  • Abuse of authority
  • Abuse of process
  • Conduct unbecoming of a law enforcement officer
  • Lack of courtesy
  • Lack of professionalism
  • Neglect of duty
  • Retaliation

All police departments have mechanisms for taking civilians’ complaints about police officers.  These complaints are often called internal affairs complaints.  They are investigated by other police officers.  In larger police departments, there is usually a separate division that handles complaints.

This guide explains what to do before, during, and after filing a complaint against a police officer.

If you wish to make a complaint against a law enforcement officer, contact us for help navigating the process.


This guide is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. You should talk to an attorney if you feel your legal rights have been violated.

People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws is a program of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center to monitor law enforcement responses to sexual violence, develop peer advocacy, and organize for criminal justice reform. We urge you to learn more about America’s hidden rape crisis, where it has been exposed, and why it matters. We invite you to take action and support our efforts to make sure law enforcement takes rape seriously.