Complaint Procedure

If you are looking to immediately start the process, you can get the complaint process started online at the page Online Complaint Notification.  

Important Points

  1. CRB intake staff are trauma informed, and are prepared to provide any assistance that you may need in filing your complaint. If you need any accomodations to file your complaint, such as a sign language translator, please call 410-396-3151 so that staff can ensure you have these services during your intake appointment. CRB staff will do everything possible to provide a safe, comfortable environment for you to file your complaint. 
  2. If you see something, say something! Small acts of misconduct can become stepping stones to larger issues if not addressed, and documentation helps to identify systemic problems. Even if you're not sure, file a complaint and let the Board look into the matter. 
  3. Remember, a quality investigation takes time. Please be patient. Your case must be prepared so carefully that it could stand up in court if necessary.
  4. You are protected in your right to file a complaint! It is unlawful for anyone to harass, intimidate, or penalize you in any manner, or otherwise take action against you because you filed a complaint. If you find yourself a target of harassment, call your investigator immediately.
  5. Details are important. Try to remember all details and report them to your investigator. Do not try to decide for yourself what is or is not important. Leave that to the specially trained investigator.
  6. Keep us aware of any changes in your address so that we can reach you at all times with any important information or case updates.
  7. You will be required to swear or affirm that the information presented is true to the best of your knowledge.
  8. The CRB is required to send a copy of your complaint to the law enforcement agency's internal investigation department within 48 hours of receiving it. However, CRB staff will not share any additional information with the police department without your permission. 

Can I file a complaint?

If you have been the victim or witness of an act of abusive language, harassment, false arrest, false imprisonment or excessive force, or injury allegedly resulting from excessive force caused by a police officer, you may file a complaint. You may also file a complaint if you are the parent, guardian, caretaker or legal representative of the complainant. 

How long do I have to file a complaint?

It is important that you file a complaint as soon as possible, so that the events are still fresh in your mind. You have one year from the date of the incident to file.

Where do I file a complaint?

You can file a complaint at the Office of Equity and Civil Rights office located at 7 E. Redwood Street, 9th Fl. Additionally, you can file a complaint at any District Police Station.  For a full list of locations where you can file a complaint, visit the page Where to File a Complaint.

What do I do when I file a complaint?

To file a complaint, you will fill out and sign a form. The form has several questions including your name, age, address, the date of the incident, the name of the accused officer, the place of the incident, witnesses to the incident, and a statement of what happened.  Many of the questions that you must answer are similar to the question that appear on the online form located on the page Online Complaint Notification.

What happens after I file a complaint?

A copy of the complaint is given to you, a second copy is sent to the Internal Affairs Division of the Police Department.  At this point the Board has three options:

1. Conduct its own investigation simultaneously with the Internal Affairs Division.
2. Not conduct its own investigation and wait to review the completed investigation of the Internal Affairs Division.
3. Choose to not investigate the complaint because it does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Civilian Review Board.

After the investigation is completed, whether by the Civilian Review Board or the Internal Affairs Division, the Board must review the investigation and make one of the following recommendations to the Police Commissioner:

1. Sustain the complaint (the Board finds the charges true, and the Police action was not justified);
2. Not Sustain the complaint (the Board does not find the charges to have been sufficiently proved);
3. Exonerate (the Board finds that the alleged act did occur, but was lawful, justified, and proper);
4. Find that the complaint is unfounded; or
5. Send it to the Internal Affairs Unit for further investigation.

What are my responsibilities after filing a complaint?

Once you file a complaint, please work to cooperate with the investigators from CRB and the internal investigative divisions. Keeping scheduled appointments and providing information as requested helps the investigators to present the most thorough and accurate information possible. If you have concerns about providing sensitive information, let your investigator know as soon as possible, so that they can work through a solution with you. Your CRB investigator will not share sensitive information with the police department without your permission. 

What is the difference between an Internal Affairs Division investigation and a Civilian Review Board investigation?

Unlike the Internal Affairs Division of the Baltimore Police Department, the Civilian Review Board is composed of civilians representing the nine police districts of Baltimore who may either conduct an independent investigation or review the investigation of the Internal Affairs Division.  The Civilian Review Board investigators are not part of the Baltimore Police Department.

How is the final decision made?

The final decision making responsibility for discipline in any complaint rests with the Police Commissioner.  The Commissioner, however, cannot take final action until he has reviewed the recommendation of the Civilian Review Board.