If an individual wants to file a formal complaint against a police officer in Hawaii, the process is usually the same or similar for all departments. Complaints are usually filed when they involve:

  • Off-duty misconduct
  • On-duty misconduct
  • Criminal behavior


Examples of When an Individual Might File a Formal Complaint Against a Hawaii Police Officer


Some types of police behavior that might warrant the filing of a formal complaint include:

  • Excessive force. This is when an officer applies a level of force that exceeds what is considered reasonable given the circumstances.
  • Harassment. An officer may be guilty of harassment if they stop to question or arrest individual without a valid reason for doing so.
  • Sexual assault. An officer who “knowingly subjects to sexual penetration” a person in custody is said to have committed sexual assault in the second degree.1


The Complaint Process


Complaints against police officers are usually handled by their agency’s Internal Affairs Unit, however, some agencies have other departments that are responsible for accepting and investigating complaints. Take for example the Honolulu Police Department (HPD).


Complaints Against Honolulu Police Officers


Complaints against Honolulu police officers are generally handled by the Honolulu Police Commission, the HPD’s Professional Standards Office, or the department’s Human Resources Division. The individual looking to file the complaint would need to download and fill out the agency’s complaint form, have it notarized, and either mail it to the department or drop it off.

Individuals also have the option of going into the department and having a Professional Standards Office detective take a statement in-person. When a complaint involves an officer who is being accused of engaging in criminal behavior, an individual has the option of contacting 911 so that an officer can be sent out to their location.

If someone was mistreated or harmed by a Honolulu police officer, they can follow the process outlined above to file their complaint. If the officer works for a different agency, the individual can visit the department’s website for instructions on how to file a formal complaint.


Contacting a Hawaii Police Brutality Lawyer


Although individuals can file a formal complaint against a police officer without having to hire a police brutality attorney, they are better off contacting one directly after an incident so that they can become more familiar with what their legal rights are. In addition, an attorney can also help them file their complaint and ensure it clearly identifies what the officer did wrong.

If an individual would like to connect with a police brutality attorney in Hawaii to learn more about filing a complaint against an officer or how they can recover compensation for the injuries they suffered, they can contact USAttorneys.com for help.



  1. https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol14_Ch0701-0853/HRS0707/HRS_0707-0731.htm