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How to File a Citizen Complaint or Commendation

As a government agency charged with protecting the public and enforcing the law, the Metropolitan Police Department strives to provide the highest level of customer service possible. We value the opinions of the public we serve in order to help us achieve this standard. By providing your input — positive or negative — we can learn where our efforts are hitting the mark and where we might need to focus our attention to improve the service we provide to the hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors we encounter each year.

If you believe you have been subjected to, or witnessed, police misconduct of any type, the MPD encourages you to report the incident to either the MPD or the Office of Police Complaints (OPC). There are many convenient ways for you to file complaints, including in-person, over the telephone, or via mail, email or fax. There are two distinct processes for reviewing and investigating complaints:

DC Office of Police Complaints (OPC):

  • Is a District of Columbia Government agency that is independent of the MPDC and has its own investigative staff.
  • Gives individuals a choice to have police misconduct complaints investigated by an agency other than the MPDC.
  • Has authority to investigate complaints filed within 90 days of the underlying incident, and that allege harassment; use of unnecessary or excessive force; use of language or conduct that is insulting, demeaning, or humiliating; discriminatory treatment; retaliation for filing a complaint with OPC; or failure to wear required identification or refusal to provide name and badge number when requested to do so by a member of the public.

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD):

  • Investigates complaints against its members through the MPD Internal Affairs Division and chain-of-command officials.
  • Investigates complaints filed at anytime alleging any type of misconduct, including misconduct that can be investigated by OPC.
  • Investigates anonymous complaints.

Office of Police Complaints

OPC was established by the District of Columbia Government to provide the public with an independent and impartial forum for the review and resolution of police misconduct complaints filed by the public against MPDC officers. The purpose of OPC is to promote the highest attainable standards of integrity, professionalism, and accountability in the District’s police department. Public confidence is strengthened by ensuring that police misconduct complaints are taken seriously, carefully investigated, and reviewed by an experienced staff. The staff is overseen by the Police Complaints Board (PCB), appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the District of Columbia Council.

OPC handles the following types of complaints against MPD officers:

  • Harassment
  • Use of unnecessary or excessive force
  • Use of language or conduct that is insulting, demeaning, or humiliatingDiscrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, physical handicap, matriculation, political affiliation, source of income, or place of residence or business
  • Retaliation for filing a complaint with OPC
  • Failure to wear required identification or refusal to provide name and badge number when requested to do so by a member of the public

Complaint forms and information sheets can be obtained by:

  • Visiting OPC at:
    Office of Police Complaints
    1400 I Street, NW, Suite 700
    Washington, DC  20005
  • Calling OPC at (202) 727-3838
  • Calling the OPC 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 866-588-0569
  • Visiting OPC’s website,
  • Visiting any MPD district station

Complaint forms can be submitted:

  • In person or by mail to the address above
  • By fax to (202) 727-9182
  • By dropping forms off at any MPD district station

More information is available on the OPC website.

Internal Affairs Division

The Internal Affairs Division (IAD) is the internal MPD unit responsible for ensuring that all complaints of officer misconduct are handled properly.

IAD investigates complaints filed at anytime alleging any type of misconduct, including misconduct that can be investigated by OPC and anonymous complaints. You may file a complaint in a number of ways:

  • In person at the IAD or any MPD facility.
  • Mail a letter detailing your complaint to the IAD or any police facility.
  • Report your complaint over the telephone
  • Fax your complaint to the IAD:
  • Email your complaint to [email protected]
  • Download the OPC Complaint Form, complete and sign the form, and submit it to the Internal Affairs Division via traditional mail or fax.

Internal Affairs Division
64 New York Ave., NE
Second Floor
Washington, DC 20002
Telephone: (202) 727-4385, TTY: (202) 898-1454
Fax: (202) 727-4858
24-hour hotline: 1-800-298-4006

Things to Remember When Making a Complaint

Whether filing a complaint with the MPD or OPC, the following information is very important when describing the event:

  • The day, date, time, and location of the incident.
  • The officer’s name, badge number, and description.
  • Witnesses’ names, addresses, and phone numbers.
  • License numbers for any vehicles involved in the incident.
  • Any other evidence you feel may be important, such as copies of traffic tickets, police reports, photographs, and medical records.  If you have injuries, include their nature and extent.
  • It is vitally important that you file your complaint as soon as possible so that photographs can be taken and medical records can be obtained quickly.

Please note that every person who wants to file a complaint with OPC must submit a completed, signed complaint form within 90 days of the underlying incident. You can file a report with the MPDC anytime.

Learn More

Get more information about how to file a complaint or commendation by downloading a brochure (below). You may also print and complete the form in the language of your choice.