If you witnessed or are a victim of police misconduct:
Write everything down. Memories fade, written notes will last. Include the location of incident, any witness’ names, time of day, and if possible the badge number(s). It is also a good idea to note what you are confused suspicious, or not completely sure of. Although you want to be as thorough as possible, inaccuracies can damage your credibility.
- It is ok if you don’t get a badge number, a police officer’s identity can be established with a time, location, and physical description.
- Consult with an attorney immediately if you were arrested following the incident.
- Even if you were not arrested, you might still want to pursue a civil suit against the police. Consulting with an attorney is the best way to determine whether you have a strong enough case.
- Complete and file a police misconduct complaint to the appropriate commission. Be sure to make copies for your record. To ensure the receipt of your work, deliver the complaint in person or send your complaint by certified mail. Certified mail requires a signature upon receipt; the department cannot say they never received your complaint.
- Keep in mind that the agency that receives your complaint may process many other complaints in addition to their regular assigned duties. Do not be alarmed if you are not responded to right away. Filing a complaint does not guarantee an immediate response.
- Still, your complaint helps by contributing to illustration of police misconduct. Or, if the same officer is accused of similar misconduct with other community members, your complaint aids in building a case against that officer. That is, even if your complaint is not responded to, the complaint is important.
Incident reports of police misconduct are reviewed by commissions, not police departments. Police commissions are made up of a small group of local residents appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the County Council. Police commissions appoint the chief of police, review the police department’s budget, advise the chief on police-community relations, and consider and investigate charges of misconduct by the Police Department or its members.
Continue reading to be informed on each county’s policy on reporting police misconduct and to access the appropriate reporting forms.
The Police Commission of Kaua’i submits a written report of its findings to the Police Chief within ninety (90) days.
Address: Kauai Police Commission c/o Office of Boards & Commissions 4444 Rice Street, Suite 150 Līhuʻe, HI 96766
Time limitations exist! The Honolulu Police Commission may only investigate an incident of police misconduct within a narrow time frame. If your complaint involves police misconduct past sixty (60) days since the initial incident, you may have to file directly with the Professional Standards Commission.
1. File a misconduct complaint with the Honolulu Police Commission if your complaint involves an officer and includes all of the following:
- while on-duty, and
- is within sixty (60) days of the date of the incident, and
- involves misconduct (e.g. swearing/profanity, refusal to provide name and badge number, over bearing conduct, etc.)
The Commission will require a notarized statement so be prepared to present proper identification (state ID, driver's license, passport, etc.). The Commission can notarize your complaint at no cost. It is suggested that you try to arrive at the office no later than 2:00 p.m. on days the office is open if you need notary services.
Address: Honolulu Police Commission 1060 Richards Street, Suite 170 Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
2. Contact the Professional Standards Commission if your complaint involves:
- On duty misconduct, and is past sixty (60) days from incident.
- Off duty misconduct.
- Misconduct that is criminal in nature.
- Involves civilian employees of the department.
Honolulu Professional Standards Commission complaint forms:
Address: Honolulu Police Department Attention: Professional Standards Office 801 South Beretania Street Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Currently, Kalawao county’s population is 88 (2016). The County lacks a local, county government. Instead, Kalawao County is administered by the Hawaii Department of Health.
Deputy Director: Keith Y. Yamamoto Phone: (808) 586-4412
Address: Maui District Health Office State Office Building 54 High Street, #301 Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii 96793
According to Sec 13-101-21, Rule of the Police Commission, police conduct complaints must be in writing and sworn by the complainant in front of a notary public. Include the date, time, place and police officer’s name. Also include your address and account of the facts on the form provided. The Maui Police Commission can provide notary services at no cost for complaints. to be sure a notary is available to help you, you may wish to call ahead to the number above.
Address: County of Maui 200 S. High St. Kalana O Maui Bldg, 6th fl. Wailuku, HI 96793
The Hawai’i County reviews forms of police misconduct where the officer(s) were either on duty, or acting under the color of authority. The complaint must be received in the commission’s office within ninety (90) days of the incident. A request for an exception to the 90-day rule must be in writing with an explanation for the delay.
Address: Hawaiʻi County Police Commission Aupuni Center 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 9 Hilo, Hawai‘i 96720