This page has been written for the purposes of legal education. Its purpose is to present in a general and simplified manner the law in force in Quebec concerning police powers and duties, your obligations as citizens and advice when you consider that a police officer is showing a lack of respect or of politeness. Its content should therefore not be construed as legal advice or advice. To find out the specific rules or advice appropriate to your situation, consult a lawyer.
Article 5 of the Code of Ethics of Quebec Police Officers states that a police officer or any other peace officer must behave in such a way as to preserve the trust and consideration required by his or her function, by acting in a professional manner, in particular by showing respect and by avoiding discriminatory acts towards the population he or she serves. They shall not be disrespectful or discourteous to any person or use obscene, profane or abusive language. It can therefore be said that, in general, the police are failing in their duty when they do so without justification.
Stay calm and be polite. Cooperate with the officer and follow their instructions.
Some municipal by-laws in Quebec prohibit the public from insulting or abusing their peace officers. For example, the Quebec City by-law prohibits "insulting or abusing a peace officer or a municipal employee in the performance of his or her duties or using offensive, defamatory, blasphemous or rude language". You may be issued a statement of offence if you fail to comply with this by-law. In general, you have the right to express opinions, frustration and blame to the police. However, as with any other person, your interactions with police officers and other law enforcement officers are likely to go more smoothly if you are polite in your interactions.
Trying to have the last word or to prove that the officer is wrong to act the way he or she is acting is never the wisest or most beneficial strategy to adopt in a police interaction. You will lose out every time if you do this. Here are some tips on how to report a dereliction of duty without causing you harm.
You must keep a distance in order to remain safe and not interfere with the intervention. You can film the intervention and offer to transmit it to the citizen as proof in case he or she wishes to file a police ethics complaint. You can also file a police ethics complaint as a third party complainant.
By being cooperative when a police officer interacts with you, respecting the law and showing consideration for the work that police officers do, which can sometimes be very difficult. You can also participate in community policing initiatives and take opportunities to engage with the police in a positive way.
If you want more information or if you need help drafting your complaint, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org