Interactions with the Police
There are a number of reasons police may need to speak with you either inside your home or while out in the community. For example, police may want to:
- Talk about an ongoing investigation.
- Search your neighbourhood for information about a crime that occurred.
- Provide crime prevention or safety information.
You can usually identify police officers by their uniform. Sometimes, you may meet officers who are not wearing a uniform. If you have doubts about the identity of a police officer, you can ask for their official identification, including the officer’s name and badge number.
At Your Home
If police attend your residence while you are home, you should answer the door. If you have cultural traditions that you want the officer to be aware of, please let them know. Please note that a police officer that is on duty will not be able to remove their shoes when they enter a home.
Do not be afraid to ask questions if you do not understand something. If you do not speak English, you can ask a family member, friend or even a neighbour to help you. If nobody is around, the officer will do his or her best to find someone to assist in your preferred language.
Police officers can enter your home when:
- They have been invited inside by someone in the home.
- They have reasonable grounds to believe there is an emergency or someone is being hurt.
- They have a legal document showing they are allowed inside.
- To check the well-being of someone in the residence (i.e. abandoned 911 call)
What is a ...Victim
Someone who has been harmed emotionally or physically as a result of a crime, accident or event.
Someone who sees a crime or accident take place.
Someone who is thought to have committed a crime or offense.
Police have the authority to stop a vehicle at any time to check for driving infractions or other violations. A police officer will indicate you are being pulled over by signaling to you from the road or their police vehicle through hand signals or use of lights, sirens or loudspeaker.
To ensure everyone’s safety when stopped by police, you should:
- Slow down and pull over to the right side of the road as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Stay in your vehicle unless directed otherwise by the police officer.
- Roll down the window and keep hands visible.
- Speak to the officer and provide any requested documents such as driver’s license and registration papers. It is the law to show these documents to a police officer when asked to do so.
Traffic offences fall into two main categories:
Moving Violations: Speeding, failing to stop at a red light or stop sign, improper lane changes, or following too close to another vehicle.
Non-moving Violations: Failing to wear seat belts, broken brake lights, or failing to produce a driver’s license, vehicle registration, or proof of insurance for the vehicle.
Other reasons for being stopped when driving include:
- Impaired driving (i.e. drunk driving)
- Dangerous or careless driving
- Using a mobile device while driving (i.e. texting)
- Criminal investigations. For example, you, your passengers and/or your vehicle may match the description of a person the officer is looking for.
- Safety concerns
For many reasons, traffic stops are the most dangerous aspect of police work. More officers are injured or killed conducting routine traffic stops than any other function. Officers must interpret the actions and behaviour of the occupants of the vehicle, as well as constantly monitoring other traffic. Officers are trained to make safe vehicle stops by following a certain procedure. You may be concerned about the way they approach your car, but it is not meant to intimidate you.
If you are Detained or Arrested by the Police
Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms you have rights if you are arrested or detained by police. These rights include:
- To be told why you are being arrested or detained.
- To be informed and given the right to have a lawyer without delay (meaning once the situation is in control and the safety of all parties is ensured.)
- To be allowed to telephone any lawyer you wish or obtain free advice from a legal aid lawyer.
- Youth under the age of 18 have additional rights under the Young Offender Act, one of which is the right to speak with a parent or guardian.
- A police officer has the right to detain you if they believe you are somehow connected to a crime that has occurred. Usually, they will use this time to further investigate the situation and ask questions. When you are under arrest for a crime, the police officer can search you, anything you are carrying and your vehicle if it is physically near you at the time of arrest. They do this search to ensure everyone’s safety, to find evidence, and to protect evidence from being destroyed.
Questions, Concerns and Complaints
If you have questions, concerns or complaints about your interactions with police you have the right to voice them. You may contact your local RCMP detachment at any time to discuss your concerns.
If you do not want to contact your RCMP detachment directly but still have concerns about your interactions with police, you can also contact the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP (CRCC):
- From anywhere in Canada: 1-800-665-6878
- TTY: 1-866-432-5837 (For hard-of-hearing persons)
- Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP
- P.O. Box 1722, Station B Ottawa, ON K1P 0B3
- Website: https://www.crcc-ccetp.gc.ca/ (English and French)
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