The Commissaire à la déontologie policière

Which categories of peace officers are under the jurisdiction of the Commissaire à la déontologie policière?

In addition to police officers, here is a list of peace officers subject to the Code of Ethics of Québec Police Officers:

  • special constables (courthouses, STM, SPCA, Hydro-Québec, Agence du revenu de Québec, Assemblée nationale, bodyguards, Université du Québec, Canadien national)
  • wildlife protection officers
  • road controllers (SAAQ)
  • senior officers and investigators from the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI)
  • senior officers and investigators from the Unité pemanente anticorruption (UPAC)

What is the difference between the Commissaire à la déontologie policière and the Comité de déontologie policière?

The Commissaire à la déontologie policière and the Comité de déontologie policière are two separate and independent bodies. The Commissaire à la déontologie policière is mandated to receive and process complaints against police officers or other peace officers subject to the Code of Ethics of Quebec Police Officers. It can hold conciliation meetings, conduct investigations and plead before the Comité de déontologie policière.

The Comité de déontologie policière is an administrative tribunal which, after hearing the evidence, makes a decision as to whether or not a police officer or other peace officer has violated the Code of Ethics of Quebec Police Officers. If so, the Comité de déontologie policière also decides on the sanction to be imposed.

What can I do if I am not satisfied with the service I received from the Commissaire à la déontologie policière?

You can send us your comments by email at deontologie-policiere.quebec@comdp.gouv.qc.ca ou by phone at 1-877-237-7897.

If you believe that we have not respected your rights, committed abuses, demonstrated negligence or inaction, committed errors, or otherwise committed wrongful acts in terms of public integrity, you can file a complaint with the Protecteur du citoyen.

What does the Commissaire à la déontologie policière do?

As a democratic society, Québec promotes the involvement of citizens in important matters of the State, of which police ethics is a part. The police ethics process is generally only triggered if a person files a complaint. The purpose of processing and resolving a police ethics complaint is not to punish, but to avoid the repetition of conduct that is detrimental to the proper functioning, credibility and integrity of law enforcement.

The Commissaire à la déontologie policière contributes to maintaining public confidence in its police officers and peace officers and to developing, within police services and organizations employing peace officers, high standards of service and of professionalism.

Is the Commissaire à la déontologie policière part of a police organization?

The Commissaire à la déontologie policière is independent and not linked to any police service. Administratively, it reports to the Sécurité publique minister.

In what year was the Commissaire à la déontologie policière created?

The Commissaire à la déontologie policière was created in 1990. For more information on our history, you can consult our page on this subject.

Do you have police officers among your employees?

We do not have active police officers on our staff. However, the majority of our investigators are former police officers with experience in criminal investigation. In order to avoid any potential conflict of interest, they cannot investigate a complaint against a person reporting to their former employer.

How many complaints does the Commissaire à la déontologie policière receive per year?

The number of complaints we receive each year varies from year to year. However, it is experiencing an upward trend. As an indication, between 2016 and 2021, this number rose from 1,781 to 2,407 complaints per year, an increase of approximately 35%.

Filing a Complaint

I have a disability. Is the police ethics complaint process accessible to me?

We will propose solutions and find with you the one(s) that is most appropriate to meet your needs. Our offices and services are adapted to the needs of people with reduced mobility.

Can I meet with a staff member of the Commissaire à la déontologie policière to file my complaint?

Except in exceptional circumstances, it is not possible to meet a staff member of the Commissaire à la déontologie policière in person to file your complaint. However, you can contact us to make a phone appointment with an information officer who will help you file your complaint.

Can I file a police ethics complaint if I live outside Quebec?

Yes, as long as the persons targeted by your complaint are subject to the Code of ethics of Québec police officers.

Am I obliged to provide my personal details when filing a complaint?

Yes. We need it to communicate with you as part of the processing of your complaint, either to ask for your cooperation or to inform you of our decisions.

Can I file a complaint anonymously?

No. We need to know your identity because your involvement is necessary for us to process your complaint. We may need to contact you to obtain additional information if needed, to participate in a conciliation meeting, to take your statement as part of an investigation or to testify at a hearing before the Comité de déontologie policière.

Can I file a police ethics complaint against an RCMP officer?

No. However, you can file your complaint with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP .

Can I complain to the Commissioner about poor service by a police service or bad internal policy?

No. We are only responsible for the enforcement of the Code of ethics of Québec police officers. If you wish to make a complaint about the quality of services provided by a police service or about a problematic internal policy, you must contact that police service.

I want to complain about a civilian employee of a police organization. What can I do?

We cannot process a complaint against a civilian employee of a police organization. However, you can complain by contacting their employer. 

Do you only accept complaints against Quebec police officers and peace officers?

We have the power to process complaints against police officers and peace officers from Quebec, but also those from other Canadian provinces or territories working in Quebec.

However, we do not process complaints against Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) police officers, even if they work in Quebec. If you want to file a complaint against an RCMP officer, you can do so with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP.

Which police organizations are under the jurisdiction of the Commissaire à la déontologie policière?

All police organizations in Quebec are under our jurisdiction, except the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). You can therefore file a police ethics complaint against a police officer from the Sûreté du Québec, a municipal police service or an Aboriginal police service in Québec.

The police did not thoroughly investigate a criminal act or they refused to take my complaint. What can the Commissaire à la déontologie policière do?

The police have wide discretion in deciding whether or not to investigate a particular complaint and to terminate it when deemed appropriate. We can only intervene if there is evidence that this discretion was exercised in an arbitrary, discriminatory or bad faith manner.

I have been the victim of racial or social profiling by police officers or I was discriminated against. What can I do?

If you wish, you can file a police ethics complaint. You also have the option of filing a complaint with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse.  

I witnessed an incident involving a police officer interacting with a citizen. Can I report this situation?

Yes, anyone can file a police ethics complaint, whether they are a person involved in or a witness to the event, a representative of the complainant or a third-party complainant (who learned of the event without having witnessed it).

I read in the newspaper an incident involving police officers interacting with a citizen. Can I report this situation?

Yes. Anyone can file a police ethics complaint, whether a person involved in or witness to the event, a representative of the complainant or a third-party complainant (who learned of the event without having witnessed it).

Must a complaint be filed for the Commissaire à la déontologie policière to look at a police intervention?

We can only intervene when there is:

  • a complaint from a person;
  • a request for an investigation from the Sécurité publique minister;
  • a final decision of a Canadian court declaring a police officer or other peace officer guilty of a criminal offense that also constitutes a derogation from the Code of ethics of Quebec police officers.

Can I get help to file a complaint?

Yes. Do not hesitate to contact us for assistance in drafting your complaint and identifying relevant evidence.

Do I have a time limit to file my complaint?

You have one year after the event or your knowledge of the event to file a police ethics complaint.

How and where can I file a police ethics complaint?

You can file a complaint online. It will be automatically sent to us. If you need help to file your complaint, you can contact us at 1 877 237-7897 (toll free number), 418 643-7897 (Quebec City region) or 514 864-1784 (Montreal region)

What do I do if I cannot identify the police officers or peace officers that I am complaining about?

When writing your complaint, you will have the opportunity to provide several pieces of information in addition to their name that could help us identify the police officers or peace officers who are the subject of your complaint:

  • Badge number/ID
  • Police file number or ticket related to your intervention
  • Police vehicle number
  • Precise time and place of the intervention
  • Physical description

From information of this nature, we may conduct research to try to identify who was involved in the event or situation you are complaining about.

Does it cost money to file a complaint with the Commissaire à la déontologie policière?

Filing a police ethics complaint is free. The complainant does not have to pay any amount at each stage of the processing of their police ethics complaint, from the beginning to the end of the process.

How should a complaint be filed?

The complaint must be filed online. The complaint must outline the allegations related to the conduct of the police officer you are complaining about and specify, as far as possible, all the circumstances (date, location, etc.) as well as the relevant facts. In addition, it is useful to send the documents (ticket, charges, decisions, etc.) and evidence (photographs, audio or video recordings, medical certificates) available. Do not hesitate to contact us in order to help you file your complaint online.

Who can file a police ethics complaint?

Anyone can file a police ethics complaint. It is therefore not necessary to have been personally involved in the event or situation which gave rise to the complaint.

General handling of complaints

If I file a complaint with the Commissaire à la déontologie policière, will the employer of the police officer or peace officer see my complaint?

Yes. Under the Police Act (section 145), we must notify the organization of the police officers or peace officers who are the subject of your complaint and provide them with a copy of it.

If I file a complaint with a police organization, will it go to the Commissaire à la déontologie policière?

It is best to file your complaint directly with us. However, if you submit your police ethics complaint form to a police department, they must send us a copy within five days of receiving it.

What makes a complaint admissible or not admissible?

A complaint is admissible when all conditions are met :

  • it is filed no later than one year from the date of the event or your knowledge of it;
  • it is about a Quebec police officer, in particular a police officer who would have carried out his duties in another province or territory of Canada, a wildlife protection officer, a special constable, a highway controller, a UPAC investigator or BEI investigator in the exercise of its functions and in its relations with the public;
  • it involves a police officer from another province or territory of Canada who allegedly carried out his or her duties in Québec, under an authorization issued in accordance with the Police Act;
  • it concerns an act that contravenes the Code of ethics of Québec police officers.

What can I do if I disagree with the Commissioner's decision to deny my complaint?

You have the right to have this decision reviewed by submitting new facts or elements within 15 days of receipt. The Commissioner's decision thereafter will be final (section 169 of the Police Act).

I have not heard from you after filing my complaint. Is this normal?

You should receive an acknowledgment of receipt of your complaint within approximately 5 days of filing it. If not, you can contact us about it. Subsequently, we may contact you to ask you additional questions or decide that all the elements in your complaint are sufficient to decide what to do with your complaint. In any case, we will let you know our decision as soon as it is made. You can always contact us to follow up on your complaint.

What is preliminary analysis?

Our analysis aims to compile an initial file that is as complete as possible in order to direct the complaint appropriately. In light of this analysis, the Commissioner may send the complaint to conciliation, order an investigation or refuse your complaint. You can consult our page on the preliminary analysis for more information on this subject.

How can I check the status of my complaint?

The only way to check the status of your complaint is to contact us.

Should I retain the services of a lawyer?

No. At no stage of the police ethics process is it necessary for a complainant to retain the services of a lawyer.

Can the Commissaire à la déontologie policière order a police officer or a peace officer to apologize?

We do not have the power to demand that the persons targeted by your complaint apologize. However, in a conciliation meeting, you could discuss the event with them, tell them the impact their actions had on you, and try to understand why they acted the way they did.

Can I file a complaint to have a ticket or charges against me dropped?

We do not have the power to cancel a ticket or a criminal charge. You must challenge the ticket or defend yourself against a criminal charge in court.

Can the Commissaire à la déontologie policière offer me financial compensation or award damages in connection with my complaint ?

We have no authority to compensate you for what you have suffered in connection with the incident. Rather, you must go to the competent civil courts. We advise you to consult a lawyer who can advise you on the appropriate recourse.

Can the Commissaire à la déontologie policière impose sanctions?

No. Only the Comité de déontologie policière, an administrative tribunal that is a separate and independent body from the Commissaire à la déontologie policière, can impose sanctions.

Can the Commissaire à la déontologie policière order a criminal investigation?

Yes. If it appears that a criminal offense may have been committed, we may refer it to the appropriate police force for criminal investigation. We can also send our file to the Director des poursuites criminelles et pénales after a police ethics investigation.

Will you provide my name or personal information to the police?

Under the Police Act, when you file a police ethics complaint we must:

  • Notify the director of the organization of the police officer or peace officer of your complaint by sending them a copy of it.
  • Notify the police officer or peace officer you are complaining about when a decision is made on the orientation of your complaint (dismissal, conciliation or investigation), summarizing the allegations that you are making and the incident that is the subject of your complaint. We do not share any other personal information, such as your address, with this person.

Will you release my name or my personal information in the media?

We do not release this information, either in the media or through an access to information request.

However, the hearings before the Comité de déontologie policière (with some exceptions) are public, as are the decisions of the Comité. Thus, anyone can attend the hearing and consult the decision of the Comité de déontologie policière if they wish. This decision will include details of the event that led to the filing of your complaint, as well as your name, unless you were a minor at the time of the events.

What happens after I file my complaint?

You will receive a notice by email or by mail to inform you that we have received your complaint and that we will analyze it to decide :

  • to reject it;
  • to refer it to conciliation;
  • to order an investigation.

To find out more, you can check out the Handling Your Complaint section.

If I file a complaint with the Commissaire à la déontologie policière, will the person I'm complaining about see my complaint?

It depends on what stage your complaint is at.

At the preliminary analysis stage, the police officer or peace officer targeted by your complaint does not receive a copy of your complaint. In the decision letter taken at this stage, that person is informed of your identity and will receive certain information that will enable him to recognize which event or situation your complaint refers to.

Here is an example:

The Complainant, Mr. X, filed a complaint with the Commissioner regarding the conduct of Sergeant X of the X Police Service. pointing their gun. He adds that the police did not identify themselves.

If there is a conciliation meeting, they will read the full complaint a few minutes before the conciliation session during the preparatory meeting with the conciliator.

If there is an investigation, the police officer or peace officer targeted by your complaint will not see the complaint while it is in progress.

If the police officer or peace officer targeted by your complaint is cited before the Comité de déontologie policière, they will receive a full copy of the complaint when the evidence is disclosed.

Conciliation

What is conciliation?

The Police Act provides that any admissible complaint must be submitted to conciliation, unless the Commissioner decides to conduct an investigation in the public interest, for example, when there is:

  • a death;
  • serious injuries;
  • a criminal offence;
  • a case of recidivism;
  • a situation that could seriously undermine public confidence in the police.

A conciliation session allows the parties to express their points of view frankly and freely. The success of conciliation lies in the active participation of both the complainant and the person complained about. In a context of collaboration and good faith, the two parties attempt, with the support of the conciliator, to reach an agreement that could resolve the dispute to their satisfaction.

What are the advantages of the conciliation meeting?

It allows you to express yourself freely and hear the other's point of view, to review the facts and perceptions of each of the parties, to restore the bond of trust between the parties and to improve future police interactions.

What happens during a conciliation meeting?

BEFORE: Before the conciliation meeting, you will have the opportunity to discuss with your conciliator. This person will be able to answer all your questions and concerns.


DURING: On the occasion of the conciliation meeting, you may be accompanied by a person of your choice. Each police officer or peace officer you are complaining about will also be accompanied by a person of their choice. No one will wear their uniform or their weapon.


AT ALL TIMES: Your conciliator is present and makes sure to maintain a climate conducive to discussion. Discussions during conciliation are confidential and cannot be used in court afterwards.

The purpose of the conciliation meeting is to reach an agreement between the parties. If the parties (the police party and the complainant party) are satisfied with the exchanges that took place, they will sign a settlement. This settlement puts an end to the police ethics process. If the complainant or the police party decides not to sign a settlement, the conciliator will draft a document setting out the progress of the conciliation. On this basis, the Commissioner will decide:

  • either to put an end to his intervention and end the process;
  • or to order an investigation into the situation to the extent that he deems it necessary. In this case, what was said in conciliation cannot be used during the investigation.

What can I do if I do not agree with your decision to send my complaint to conciliation?

The complainant who considers that conciliation is not appropriate in his or her case must inform the Commissioner in writing of the reasons for his or her opposition. This person has 30 days after the date of filing of their complaint to submit their reasons. Then, the Commissioner can :

  • grant the request and order an investigation;
  • reject the reasons for the opposition and maintain the complaint in conciliation. From this moment, the conciliation procedure becomes compulsory;
  • decide to dismiss the complaint following the complainant's refusal to participate in conciliation. This measure is only used as a last resort, and after we have tried to convince the complainant that conciliation is the appropriate procedure for them. 

What can I do if I disagree with the Commissioner's decision to reject my complaint after I refused to participate in a conciliation meeting or after the conciliation meeting failed?

You can file a request for review. This must be made in writing and filed with us within 15 days of receipt of our rejection decision. In your request for review, you must submit new facts or elements. The Commissioner's review decision is rendered within 10 days and is final.

Investigation

What are the powers of the investigators of the Commissaire à la déontologie policière?

Our investigators can :

  • enter a police station or premises and examine there the books, reports, documents and effects related to the complaint under investigation, after giving notice thereof to the director of the police force concerned. However, in practice, the police departments cooperate with the Commissaire à la déontologie policière in order to send relevant information without the Commissioner's staff having to visit police stations.
  • require from any person any information and any document that it considers necessary for its investigation (except from the police officers or peace officers targeted by the complaint).

If an investigator from the Commissaire à la déontologie policière wants to meet me for an interview, how should I prepare?

To prepare for this meeting :

  1. Reread your complaint and, if applicable, note any details you would like to add.
  2. Find all the evidence that can support your complaint (e.g. ticket, photograph, video, document, etc.) and prepare a copy (e.g. on a USB key for photographs and videos).
  3. Make a list of your witnesses with their up-to-date contact information (phone number and email).
  4. Inform your witnesses of your complaint and that they will likely be contacted to provide a statement. If one of your witnesses is a minor, a person who has parental authority over him must give his consent.

When you meet the investigator, you have the right to be accompanied by a person of your choice. However, this person should not be involved in the event you are complaining about, as they may also be met as a witness.

How long do investigations by the Commissaire à la déontologie policière generally last?

The investigator to whom the complaint is entrusted has 180 days to submit his report. This period may be extended by the Commissioner in exceptional circumstances, for example if a criminal or independent investigation is to be conducted.

What happens if the Commissioner decides after investigation that the evidence is insufficient to cite the persons targeted by my complaint before the Comité de déontologie policière?

He will write a decision where he will inform you of the reasons for which he rejects your complaint. You will have the right to request a review of this decision.

Are all complaints automatically investigated?

No, the investigation is an exceptional measure reserved for the most serious cases of allegations. The Police Act provides that any complaint must be submitted to conciliation, unless the Commissioner considers it necessary to investigate in the public interest, for example, when there is:

  • a death;
  • serious injuries;
  • a criminal offence;
  • a case of recidivism;
  • a situation that could seriously undermine public confidence in the police.

What are the possible outcomes if my complaint is investigated?

If your complaint is investigated, the Commissioner can decide to: 

  • terminate an ongoing investigation;
  • dismiss your complaint after analysis of the investigation report;
  • if the evidence justifies it, cite before the Comité de déontologie policière any peace officer subject to the Code of ethics of Québec police officers.

Citation

What happens if the Commissioner decides after investigation that the police officer must be cited before the Comité de déontologie policière?

If you were directly involved in the event, the Commissioner's lawyer will contact you. However, it should be understood that at this stage, the lawyer is representing the Commissioner, and not you.

Your testimony is mandatory if deemed necessary. A subpoena may be sent to you.

The role of the Committee is to seek the truth in the situation presented to it. Thus, as a witness, your role is to present, as honestly and faithfully as possible, the situation you experienced and what you personally observed.

When they plead my complaint before the Comité de déontologie policière, does the Commissaire à la déontologie policière become my lawyer?

No. Although you initiated this process, a lawyer represents the Commissaire à la déontologie policière who is the prosecutor before the Comité de déontologie policière, whereas you are a mere witness. Your role at this stage is to present, as faithfully as possible, the situation you experienced and what you personally observed.

Can a witness be compensated for the expenses incurred to testify at a hearing of the Comité de déontologie policière?

Request for review

What can I do if I disagree with the Commissioner's decision to reject my complaint after I refused to participate in a conciliation meeting or after the conciliation meeting failed?

You can file a request for review. This must be made in writing and filed with us within 15 days of receipt of our rejection decision. In your request for review, you must submit new facts or elements. The Commissioner's review decision is rendered within 10 days and is final.

What happens if the Commissioner decides after investigation that the evidence is insufficient to cite the persons targeted by my complaint before the Comité de déontologie policière?

He will write a decision where he will inform you of the reasons for which he rejects your complaint. You will have the right to request a review of this decision.

How can I have a decision from the Commissaire à la déontologie policière reviewed?

Your right to ask for a review must be exercised within a time limit and with a different authority depending on the stage at which the Commissioner denies or rejects the complaint.

After the preliminary analysis, during conciliation, after a failure in conciliation or during the investigation. The request for review must be made in writing and filed with the Commissaire à la déontologie policière within 15 days of receiving its decision. In your request for review, you must submit new facts or elements. The Commissioner's review decision is rendered within 10 days and is final.

After investigation. The request for review must be filed with the office of the Comité de déontologie policière within 30 days of notification of the Commissioner's decision. The request for review is a written statement explaining the reasons. The Comité de déontologie policière renders a final decision without appeal after analyzing the reasons for the request and the file compiled by the Commissaire à la déontologie policière.

The Comité may: 

  • confirm the decision;
  • reverse the decision and order the Commissaire à la déontologie policière to :
    • pursue its investigation within such time as it specifies;
    • carry out a new investigation within such time as it specifies;
    • cite the police officer, wildlife protection officer, special constable, highway controller or UPAC or BEI investigator or senior officer within 15 days of their decision.

What happens if I disagree with the decision following my review request?

The review decision of the Commissaire à la déontologie policière or the Comité de déontologie policière is final.

Can I appeal the decision of the Comité de déontologie policière rendered in relation to my complaint?

No. The complainant cannot appeal a decision of the Comité de déontologie policière. The right of appeal can only be exercised by the Commissaire à la déontologie policière or the police party. However, within 20 days of notification of the Comité de déontologie policière's decision, you may submit your point of view in writing to the Commissaire à la déontologie policière on the possibility of appealing the decision.

What can I do if I disagree with the Commissioner's decision to deny my complaint?

You have the right to have this decision reviewed by submitting new facts or elements within 15 days of receipt. The Commissioner's decision thereafter will be final (section 169 of the Police Act).

Commissaire à la déontologie policière

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