Professional Standards Investigations
The Professional Standards Section of the Calgary Police Service (CPS) is responsible for addressing public and internal concerns and complaints about the conduct of police officers, the policies of the CPS or the service provided by the CPS.
Police officer conduct in Alberta is regulated by the province through the Police Act and Police Service Regulation. These laws create a process for police services to receive, investigate and resolve concerns and complaints about officer conduct.
The main goal of this process is to ensure that Calgarians have a professional, safe, efficient and effective police service.
A professional standards file can be opened in five different ways:
- A citizen contacts the Professional Standards Section with a concern
- A citizen files a formal complaint they want investigated
- The Chief Constable or his designate orders an investigation
- Someone makes criminal allegations against an officer
- An incident occurs that requires a review to determine if any further action is required
Citizens that contact us with a concern or complaint may speak with an intake investigator who will gather more information on the incident, explain the police officer’s actions if possible, and ask the citizen how they would like the incident to be resolved.
The intake investigators are able to resolve over 90 per cent of the concerns at this stage, typically through an explanation of police procedures, through an informal conversation between involved parties, or through the officer’s supervisor addressing the concern. These informal resolutions allow for citizens to learn about police processes and provide officers with feedback on their performance.
We encourage citizens to consider informal resolutions whenever appropriate. The goals of the informal resolution process include timely feedback to citizens, and immediate feedback and coaching for officers.
If a matter cannot be resolved informally to the citizen’s satisfaction, and it is something that meets the complaint criteria under the Police Act, it is formally investigated. Formal investigations follow the process outlined in Section 45 of the Police Act.
You need to provide all the evidence you can at an early stage in the process, in support of your complaint or concern. Available evidence that is not provided for consideration during the investigation will generally be omitted from consideration in any appeal.
When an investigation finds that an officer’s actions may have been an offence under federal or provincial statutes, the case will be referred to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service for review.
Formal complaints about officer conduct are ultimately reviewed by the Chief Constable. All complaints are investigated fully and thoroughly, in order to determine if there is evidence of unprofessional conduct, or misconduct as defined by the Police Service Regulation.
If the alleged misconduct is not what the Police Act defines as “of a serious nature,” then the Chief Constable determines whether misconduct occurred and decides what – if any – of the disciplines allowed under the Police Act are appropriate. (Learn more about this decision making process)
If the alleged misconduct is “of a serious nature” and there is enough evidence to reasonably believe the misconduct occurred, the case must go to a Professional Conduct Hearing (commonly known as a disciplinary hearing). A retired senior police officer or retired judge is appointed to preside over these hearings, determine whether misconduct occurred, and decide what – if any – discipline is appropriate.
In both cases, the citizen who filed the complaint receives a written copy of the final decision.
In all formal investigations, the Professional Standard Section investigates officer conduct to determine if any misconduct occurred under the Police Act, Police Service Regulation or any provincial or federal statute. Complaints outside of this mandate may be handled informally.
Cases where police actions have resulted in serious injury or death, as well as any serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct, are turned over to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) for an independent investigation.