Having a complaint made against you is stressful. Keep in mind that complaints against police officers are almost inevitable, if you police for long enough you will get one.
When a complaint is made against a police officer, it is assessed and triaged. A minor complaint, for example a low-level traffic offence, is usually dealt with by your supervisor. A more serious complaint, for example excessive use of force which does not result in injury, might be dealt with by Police Professional Conduct. The IPCA may be notified but will probably not investigate directly. For serious complaints, for example allegations of excessive force resulting in injury, or corruption, the IPCA will conduct their own investigation independently from Police. The Police may also conduct an employment investigation, as well as a criminal investigation if the allegation is criminal in nature. You can see how an allegation can quickly become complicated.
The burden of proof is on the IPCA or Police to establish the allegation against you. Although the standard of proof is always the balance of probabilities, for more serious allegations the evidence in support of the allegation will be assessed more robustly. It is not just criminal law that the allegation will be assessed against, it is the Code of Conduct and other Police policy. The IPCA has special powers available to them which are not used often but are draconian, For example, you can be compelled to meet with an IPCA investigator and be examined under oath or affirmation.
The outcome of a IPCA or professional standards investigation are employment related. If the complaint is upheld, you could receive a warning, be required to undertake additional training or supervision, or be dismissed.
As a police officer you have good support through the Police Association. Depending on the seriousness of the complaint they may offer you an association representative as a support person or a lawyer. The process is normally fair and reasonable; however it is a human system and mistakes can happen. If you have a complaint made against you, you should talk to someone about it. This could be the Police Association or an independent lawyer like Frontline Law. You can contact Frontline Law for a free initial consultation.
Frontline Law is a team of talented lawyers, most of whom have previously served in the Armed Forces, New Zealand Police, and other uniformed organisations.
The first step in getting support is to talk with a lawyer from Frontline Law about your situation and see what options we can offer you. Contact Frontline Law for a free initial consultation.