New Tool for Citizens Harassed by Police

COPKA is often informed about incidents of police activity. Motorists complain that they have been stopped multiple times, with no charges laid, and it smacks of harassment. One man claims to have been stopped 20 times in two weeks. Others complain of multiple charges that are ultimately withdrawn or dismissed. COPKA has developed a “Contact Record” so that citizens can easily create a permanent record of their contacts with the police.

Citizens have the right to bear witness and record events as long as they do not interfere with the police performing their legal duties. As well, they have the right to ask for and obtain an officer's name and badge number. It is natural to be nervous when speaking with a police officer, especially if the officer is being aggressive or disrespectful. Using the Contact Record assists a person, calmly and respectfully, to ask for the information needed to make an accurate record of what happened. It also lets the officer know that his/her actions are being recorded and may be shared with others. This may be enough to positively change the tone of the interaction.

A citizen's records of an incident, including the Contact Record, photos, audio and visual recordings, are one's personal property and cannot legally be confiscated by a police officer. The Contact Record can be used for single incidents or to help establish a pattern of police behaviour. For example, if the same officer has stopped the same motorist four times over the course of two months, his Contact Record will show when and where each stop happened, the reasons given for each stop, the officer's behaviour and the identity of witnesses.

The Contact Record could be used to review the incident with the local OPP Staff Sergeant in Killaloe, or to attach to a letter to OPP Headquarters, or to a formal complaint to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD). Citizens can share the Contact Record with their lawyer if they decide to launch a civil suit. They might also decide to share it with COPKA, which helps us to track trends in policing issues.

The goal of the form is to encourage respectful interactions, trust and co-operation between the police and the public they serve. The Contact Record form has been widely reviewed. Feedback to date has been consistently positive. The only criticism so far has been, “If only we had this sooner.”

A 25-page pad of the Contact Record is available from COPKA at no charge. Donations to cover printing costs would be appreciated. You can also download the form and print it yourself, HERE. (link) For more information, or to provide feedback, please contact our office: (613) 757-3104 or info@copka.ca.