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City of Cambridge

File a complaint against the Police Department

Police Review & Advisory Board

The Police Review & Advisory Board provides a prompt, impartial and fair investigation of complaints brought by individuals against members of the Cambridge Police Department.

In all cases, everyone making a complaint is required to provide signed statement describing what happened and the specific complaint. Complaints must be filed within 60 days of the incident. 

Tips and FAQs

How does someone submit a complaint?

Complaints may be filed with the staff of the Police Review & Advisory Board in person, by letter, or by telephone. In all cases, everyone making a complaint is required to provide signed statement describing what happened and the specific complaint. Complaints must be filed within 60 days of the incident.

What types of complaints does the Police Review & Advisory Board investigate?

  • Excessive use of force 
  • Use of discourteous or demeaning language 
  • Improper stop, arrest, search and seizure 
  • Inadequate investigation or improper police reports 
  • Discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, sex, religion, disability, or national origin or any other criteria defined in federal and state guidelines.
  • Harassment 
  • Improper police procedures 
  • Improper traffic citation or towing of a car by the police

What happens once a complaint is submitted?

The process begins with a complaint being filed with the Police Review and Advisory Board. The Board employs its own staff, and works with the Professional Standards Unit of the Police Department to investigate all complaints. An investigation includes interviews with both the complainant and involved police officer(s), as well as any other relevant individuals, and a review of police reports, witness statements, and other pertinent information. The staff submits its investigative report to the Board, which reviews the report, and may accept the report or order additional investigation into the complaint. After the investigation process is completed, the Board will deliberate and make a determination whether or not there was a violation of policy or procedures, or whether it is inconclusive.

Depending on the finding, any party to the complaint may request that the Board order a hearing, which is done at the discretion of the Board based on the evidence the Board has received. If a hearing is held, the Board will render a final decision.

In addition, even if the Board finds that there was no violation of policy or procedures, it may make recommendations to the City Manager and the Police Commissioner about changes that can be made to avoid similar situations in the future

Last Updated: 3/5/2017 | Provide feedback on this page

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