Complaint or Inquiry Submission

The public’s trust, confidence and support are vital to successful police service. The public is entitled to have ready access to supervisors and the police administration that is sworn to serve them, and have them respond to any grievances or complaints regarding any member of the Arcata Police Department. This access will help foster public understanding of police procedures and aid in the detection or correction of improper or undesirable practices or behavior by members of the Arcata Police Department.

Pursuant to section 832.5 of the Penal Code, the Arcata Police Department has adopted a policy that provides a fair, orderly and uniformly applied process for receiving, investigating, and resolving complaints of alleged police misconduct.

Complaints against members of the Arcata Police Department may be filed in a variety of ways, including;

  • By filling out this form and submitting it either in person or by mail to the Arcata Police Department located at 736 F Street, Arcata, CA 95521.
  • By filling out this form and submitting it either in person or by mail to the City Manager’s Office located at City Hall, 736 F Street, Arcata, CA 95521.
  • By speaking directly to a Arcata Police Department supervisor either in person or by telephone (707) 822-2428.
  • By sending an email to the Chief of Police at 

Filling out a complaint form is not a requirement for making a complaint. All complaints, from any source, in any language, whether in writing or verbally received, no matter how received by the Police Department, will be reviewed.

Although a person is not required to speak to anyone at the Police Department prior to making a complaint, if your inquiry or complaint is specifically about a member of the Arcata Police Department, we encourage you to speak directly to that employee’s immediate supervisor. If that supervisor is not available, you may ask for the on-duty Watch Commander. Any police supervisor may accept an initial inquiry or a formal complaint directed against personnel, policies or procedures.

If your inquiry or complaint appears to be based on a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of acceptable or desired conduct, policies or procedures, the supervisor may offer an explanation and attempt to resolve the situation without a formal investigation. If you are not satisfied with an explanation of acceptable and desirable conduct, policies or procedures, a formal complaint may be filed.

 If you make a formal complaint, it will be thoroughly investigated by an assigned supervisor. The investigation will usually include a review of all applicable reports, examination of any evidence, review of any video or audio footage and interviews with all parties and witnesses. A simple inquiry might take several days to complete, while a complex investigation might take two or three months or more to investigate and review.  The Department’s review will also include looking for ways to improve policies, procedures, training, and service.


You will receive written notification of the findings of any formal investigation. The potential findings are:

  1. Unfounded –The investigation established that the allegation is not true.
  2. Not Sustained –The investigation failed to disclose sufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation in the complaint.
  3. Sustained –The investigation determined the alleged act(s) occurred in violation of Arcata Police Department policies.
  4. Exonerated –The investigation determined the alleged act(s) occurred and were not a violation of law or agency policy..

If the complaint is sustained, meaning Department policy was violated, a determination will be made as to whether the employee will be disciplined and/or receive additional training. Discipline may include: reprimand, suspension, demotion or termination. 

Although we cannot guarantee you will be satisfied with the results of the investigation, we do guarantee that your complaint will be investigated thoroughly and fairly.

To assist you in preparing and processing your complaint against an employee of the Arcata Police Department, you may be assisted by a member of the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission. A Commissioner will assist you in the preparation of any forms which are necessary and will, if requested, accompany you through the process. You can contact the Human Rights Commission by leaving a voice mail message at (707) 268-2548.