Montreal police say they're 'taking measures' to establish paper trail on citizen complaints

An internal memo has been sent to more than 100 police managers to remind them of their duty to tell people, in writing, what their rights are when they file a complaint alleging police misconduct.

Internal memo has gone out to remind police of duty to tell people of right to go to ethics commissioner

Joyce Thomas, right, was one of the women who came forward to allege that provincial police in Val-d'Or, Que. abused her. (Radio-Canada )

A spokesperson for the Montreal police service (SPVM) says the SPVM  is "taking measures" to ensure that, in future, the rights of complainants are respected.

When someone comes forward to complain about mistreatment by police, investigators are obliged under Quebec's Police Act to tell that person, in writing, what their rights are and to send a copy of that letter to Quebec's police ethics commissioner.

In 2016, the SPVM was called on to investigate allegations of misconduct by Sûreté du Québec officers in Val-d'Or and elsewhere involving Indigenous women.

However, as CBC News reported last week, only a single letter of complaint was forwarded to the Commissioner Marc-André Dowd, whose role is to investigate cases of possible police misconduct.

Information shared verbally, says police commander

Montreal police Cmdr. Jonathan Martel, who is in charge of SPVM communications, told CBC News that each Indigenous person whose complaint was investigated was informed verbally about the option of taking that complaint to the police ethics commissioner and given the commissioner's contact information.

However, Martel could not explain why there was no written record proving that complainants had been given that information.

Martel said since CBC reported on that procedural breach last week, an internal memo has been sent to more than 100 police managers to remind them of their duty to leave a paper trail whenever there is a complaint alleging police misconduct.

The form for complainants alleging misconduct by police officers in Quebec is available online. (Catou Mackinnon/CBC)

Quebec's Code of Ethics for police officers sets out more than two dozen rules officers must follow.

They address everything from a ban on swearing to rules on the use of force to the requirement that an officer must give his or her name and badge number when asked.

With files from CBC's Catou MacKinnon